McNeese State 63

(10-1, 5-0 Southland)

Nicholls State 28

(5-6, 3-2 Southland)

7:00 PM ET, November 22, 2003

John L. Guidry Stadium, Thibodaux, LA

1 2 3 4 T
MCNS 21 7 14 2163
NICH 0 7 14 728

McNeese State 63, Nicholls State 28

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) -- Scott Pendarvis threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns as McNeese State clinched the Southland Conference title with a 63-28 victory over Nicholls State on Saturday night.

Vick King ran for 117 yards and one touchdown for McNeese, while Marcus Turner caught 4 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns.

Having fallen behind, Nicholls was not able to control the ball with its triple option rushing attack and had to throw. Nicholls finished with 188 yards rushing, well below its average. But quarterback Josh Son was 15-of-26 for 236 yards and two touchdowns as Nicholls stayed in the game until McNeese's Stephen Barrett returned a Nicholls fumble for a 72-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.

McNeese (10-1, 5-0), the No. 1-ranked Division I-AA team in the country, needed the victory for the league title after Stephen F. Austin won at Northwestern State earlier in the day.

And the Cowboys didn't need much time to take the lead for good as Nicholls fumbled on its own 4-yard line less than two minutes into the game. Pendarvis found Matt Gore in the end zone on the next play.

Pendarvis' 37-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Sams, followed by touchdown runs of 9 yards by King and 6 yards by Luke Lawton, put Cowboys up 28-0.

Son hit Vince Butler, who finished with nine catches for 180 yards and two scores, with a 35-yard touchdown pass late in the first half. Then Nicholls cut its deficit to 28-14 early in the third quarter when Rudy August scored on a 25-yard run.

Turner's 36-yard touchdown catch gave the Cowboys a 35-14 lead. But Son responded with a 61-yard touchdown pass to Butler, and Nicholls was threatening to pull within a touchdown late in the third quarter when Barrett scored on his fumble return, leaving the score at 42-21.