Outscored 34-14 in the final two quarters, the fourth-ranked Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen suffered a 62-24 shellacking Saturday at the hands of ninth-rated Navarro College in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference Championship at Robertson Field.
While snapping a five-game winning streak, the regular-season conference champion Golden Norse are 9-2 on the year and await a possible invitation to a post-season bowl game. The 10 National Junior College Athletic Association bowls will extend invitations to teams by Tuesday.
Although head coach Brian Mayper is completing his first season as the Bulldogs head coach, Navarro has won three consecutive SWJCFC post-season titles. The Bulldogs are also 9-2 on the year after gaining redemption for a 26-24 loss sustained to the Norsemen two weeks ago in the regular season finale at Robertson Field.
Despite a steady 35-mph wind from the south, the Golden Norse defense created a scoring opportunity on Navarro’s opening possession.
Bulldog quarterback Darian Godfrey fumbled the ball at his own 13-yard line and NEO freshman linebacker Zach Maynard fell on the loose ball.
Unable to reach the endzone, the Norsemen settled for a 29-yard field goal by Kevin King with 11:43 left in the first quarter.
Moving with the wind at their back, the Bulldogs covered 80 yards on six plays to take the lead. Godfrey hit running back Tyler Middleton on passes of 36 and eight yards while tailback Traylon Shed added a 14-yard run.
A one-yard plunge by Godfrey at the 7:24 mark and the extra point by Patrick Sohrt gave Navarro a 7-3 lead.
Just two plays into their next possession the Norsemen regained the lead as freshman tailback Casey Curtis burst up the middle for a 34-yard TD run. King’s PAT produced a 10-7 Norse lead with 6:52 remaining in the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter sophomore defensive tackle Andre Young recovered a fumble by Curtis at the NEO 20-yard line.
An 11-yard TD pass from Godfrey to Eddie Johnson with 11:38 until halftime gave the Bulldogs a 14-10 margin after Sohrt’s extra point.
Navarro took advantage of a blocked Garrett Powell punt by freshman defensive tackle Jeremy Day to drive 38 yards in eight plays on the next possession.
Shed concluded the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run at the 8:35 juncture. The point-after by Sohrt gave Navarro a 21-10 cushion.
The Godfrey-to-Johnson duo connected for a 12-yard TD pass with just 0:50 seconds before half to conclude an 80-yard, 11-play drive. Navarro carried a 28-10 advantage to the locker room at half following Sohrt’s PAT.
“I thought it was a big deal in the first half when we created three turnovers,” Patterson said. “But, we only came away with three points instead of at least three field goals which put us in a hole.”
During the third quarter Navarro received a 45-yard touchdown run by Tyler Middleton and a 13-yard TD run by wide receiver Tony Drake to construct a 41-10 cushion.
With time running out in the third quarter, NEO quarterback Clayton Mitchem hit veteran wide out Garrett Powell for a 34-yard TD pass. King’s extra point with just 0:03 seconds showing on the clock created a 41-17 deficit heading into the final 15 minutes.
The Bulldogs offense continued to shred the NEO defense in the fourth quarter as Shed scored on a 28-yard run and tight end Gerard Shillow added a three-yard run. Godfrey connected with wide out Jordan Jolly for a 32-yard touchdown pass at the 9:24 mark.
Playing without the services of starting tailback Gerald Howse, who is sidelined with an ankle problem, the Norse offense managed only 330 total yards while Navarro’s offense accounted for 689 total yards including 535 on the ground.
NEO’s final score was a one-yard plunge by Mitchem with 10:37 left in the game.
Navarro 62, NEO 24
Navarro 7 21 13 21 – 62
Northeastern A&M 10 0 7 7 – 24
NEO – Kevin King 29 FG
N – Darian Godfrey 1 run (Patrick Sohrt kick)
NEO – Casey Curtis 34 run (King kick)
N – Eddie Johnson 11 pass from Godfrey (Sohrt kick)