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McNeese St. 31, Nicholls St. 13

November 23, 1997

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) _ Blake Prejean passed for 358 yards and three touchdowns as McNeese State defeated Nicholls State 31-13 Saturday to capture a share of the Southland Football League title.

The Cowboys (10-1, 6-1 in the SFL) will receive the League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs which begin Saturday. Both McNeese State and Northwestern State finished with 6-1 conference records, but the Cowboys defeated Northwestern 50-7 earlier this year to give them the automatic slot.

Nicholls State had a seven-game home winning streak snapped with the loss and ended its season with a 5-6 record. The Colonels finished fourth in the league at 3-4.

Prejean completed his first nine passes of the game and was 15-of-19 for the night. He began the game with a 79-yard touchdown strike to Donnie Ashley on the game’s second play. The Cowboys broke open a 10-6 game when Prejean completed a 65-yard touchdown pass to Keffian Smith with 12:09 left in the fourth quarter.

On Nicholls State’s first play following the touchdown pass, quarterback Brad Smith was intercepted by Wayne Cordova, who returned the ball for a touchdown, giving McNeese a 24-6 lead.

Smith came back with a 64-yard touchdown pass to Julius Alcee to make it 24-13. Smith, who was 12-of-21 for 179 yards, started in place of junior Brad Zeller who was sidelined with a deep knee bruise. Zeller was one of six Nicholls starters sidelined with injuries.

Damien Morris, who caught a team-leading four passes for 120 yards, capped the Cowboys’ scoring with a 34-yard touchdown reception with 2:56 to play.

McNeese State running back William Davis rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries to go over the 1,000-yard mark. He now has 1,011 for the year.

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