Georgia scored two quick-strike touchdowns - one on offense, one on defense - in a span of about two minutes after Nicholls took a third-quarter lead, and the No. 9 Bulldogs escaped with an uninspiring 26-24 win over the Colonels on Saturday.
Georgia (2-0) opened the game with a fast touchdown drive capped by Nick Chubb's 6-yard run and appeared headed for the easy win over the FCS Colonels that was widely expected in Kirby Smart's home debut as coach.
Smart called the sloppy win disappointing.
"We had a lot of guys today who didn't play the way they are capable, and I've got to figure out why that is," Smart said.
Nicholls (0-1) led 14-13 midway through the third after freshman quarterback Chase Fourcade, a surprise starter, threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jarrell Rogers.
Georgia freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, also making his first start, threw a 66-yard scoring pass to Isaiah McKenzie less than a minute later. The Bulldogs' rally continued on Lorenzo Carter's 24-yard fumble return for a score.
A fumbled punt return by McKenzie inside the Georgia 10 set up a late Nicholls touchdown on Fourcade's 6-yard pass to C.J. Bates, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to 2 points.
Georgia relied on Chubb, who rushed for 80 yards, to run out the clock.
"If we get a stop, who knows what could've happened?" asked Nicholls coach Tim Rebowe. "I'm proud of our guys. ... We found out some things today about our team."
Eason completed 11 of 20 passes for 204 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Greyson Lambert took over late in the game.
Smart said the quarterback position wasn't settled.
"It was never settled this week until late," Smart said. "We're going to look and see who gives us the best chance to be successful."
Fourcade completed 9 of 19 passes for 99 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions and said he felt "kind of both" good and bad emotions.
"It is always frustrating to lose a close game," Fourcade said. "... Overall this was a good first game for us to take into next week."
Chubb had only 17 yards rushing in the first half and lost a fumble that set up Dontrell Taylor's 4-yard touchdown run late in the half.
Nicholls: The Colonels hardly appeared awed by the step up in competition. They showed impressive push on their defensive front, hitting Chubb and McKenzie for losses. It was an encouraging start to coach Tim Rebowe's second season.
Georgia: The slow start was a reality check for the Bulldogs and fans expecting an easy game. There is reason to be alarmed about an offense which failed to score off three first-half opportunities: two interceptions and a drive that started at the Nicholls 37 following a short punt.
Nicholls: The Colonels will play their home opener against Southland Conference rival Incarnate Word.
Georgia: The Bulldogs begin a string of eight straight Southeastern Conference games when they visit Missouri.