CORSICANA, Texas - While the Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen defense held Navarro College to under 400 yards in total offense Saturday afternoon, the NEO offense came to a dead stop in a 34-12 loss to the Bulldogs before a partisan homecoming crowd at Tiger Stadium.
Coach Rob Green's 16th-ranked Norsemen (4-2) slip to 1-2 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference.
While winning their third consecutive game, first-year head coach Ray Woodard's Bulldogs are 3-1 in the SWJCFC and 4-2 overall.
NEO returns home Saturday to host defending national champion Blinn College in a 3 p.m. homecoming game at Robertson Field. Following a 42-21 victory over Trinity Valley on Saturday in Athens, Texas, the seventh-ranked Buccaneers come to Miami with a 2-1 conference record and a 5-1 season mark.
After winning the opening coin toss and deferring until the second half, things took a very ominous turn for the Golden Norsemen on the opening kickoff.
Sophomore wide receiver Lucious Henderson caught Jeremy Knott's kick 3 yards deep in the end zone. With a burst of speed, Henderson raced through the middle of the NEO kickoff squad for 75 yards before Knott forced him out of bounds at the NEO 28-yard line.
Four plays later, freshman quarterback Andre Bevil fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to 6-6 veteran wide out Jason Madkins on a mismatch with 5-11 NEO freshman cornerback Abraham Woodard.
Chad McIntosh added the extra point for a 7-0 Navarro lead with 12:57 left in the first quarter.
Woodard (5-11, 170 of Tulsa Memorial) was making his first start as a replacement for sophomore Leotist Gordon who is sidelined with a leg injury.
Freshman cornerback Eric Williams (5-10, 170 of Tulsa Union) replaced Woodard on the next Navarro possession and intercepted an errant Bevil pass at the Bulldogs 34-yard line.
Veteran Norse quarterback Bo Bowling, still bothered by a staph infection on his right leg, completed a 23-yard pass to wide out Kevin Radford after four rushes had netted Bowling minus-4 yards.
Freshman running back Shaun Baker-Hughes culminated the NEO drive with a 14-yard touchdown run with 8:14 left in the first quarter.
Placekicker Jeremy Knott added the extra point for a 7-7 tie.
After an exchange of possessions, the Golden Norse pinned the Bulldogs deep in Navarro territory. Running back Tyrone Ross mishandled a handoff from Bevil at the Navarro 17-yard line. The ball rolled into the end zone.
Just as NEO defensive tackle John White was about to tackle Ross, he kicked the ball out of the endzone for a two-point safety for NEO with 12 seconds left in the first quarter.
NEO's lead expanded to 12-7 after Knott nailed a 29-yard field goal with 8:08 until halftime. The Golden Norse offense received a 33-yard run by Bowling to ignite a 68-yard drive that stalled at the Navarro 12-yard line.
Sophomore Jeremy Sanders replaced Bevil at quarterback and engineered a nine-play, 68-yard drive that consumed almost five minutes. Sanders connected on passes of 18 yards to Andre Banks and 36 yards to Madkins on third down plays to keep the drive going.
Ross burst through the middle of the Norse defense for a 13-yard touchdown run with 3:38 before halftime. A two-point conversion pass by Sanders misfired and the Bulldogs carried a 13-12 lead to the locker room.
Two costly Golden Norse interceptions led to 14 points by Navarro during the third quarter.
Bulldog linebacker Donald Booker picked off a Bowling pass at the Navarro 48-yard line midway through the third quarter. Three carries by freshman tailback Octavious Logan accounted for 39 yards during the drive.
After a 9-yard run by Ross, Logan zig-zagged through the NEO defense for an 18-yard touchdown at 5:47 of the third quarter. The PAT by McIntosh created a 20-12 Bulldog lead.
With Kaelin Woods at quarterback and Bowling at tailback, the Bulldogs pilfered another pass with a 9-yard interception return by freshman cornerback Melvin Hopkins to the NEO 31-yard line.
Relying on the running of freshman tailback Justin Sturns, the Bulldogs covered 18 yards on four carries before a pass interference call on NEO in the endzone gave Navarro a 1st-and-goal situation at the 2-yard line.
Sturns, a converted quarterback, scored on a 1-yard plunge and McIntosh kicked the point-after for a 28-12 Navarro lead with 2:47 left in the third quarter.
Navarro's seventh running back of the game, freshman William Powell, scored on a 12-yard run with 11:48 left in the game to end a 61-yard, seven-play drive by the Bulldogs.
McIntosh hit the extra point to close out the scoring.
Bowling led a Golden Norse ground game that was limited to 137 yards on 38 carries. Bowling rushed for 77 yards on 24 carries.
Playing without the nation's leading receiver Curtis Tucker (31 catches for 576 yards), the Golden Norse managed only 112 total yards passing. Tucker did not make the trip to Corsicana because of disciplinary issues.
Bowling completed 7 of 16 passes for 71 yards with one interception while Woods hit only 4 of 11 for 41 yards and one interception.
Kevin Radford caught four passes for 52 yards and Walter Coleman added four catches for 35 yards.
Navarro rushed for 248 yards on 54 carries. Logan gained 91 yards on 12 carries and Bevil added 44 yards on 10 carries.
Sanders connected on 6 of 8 passes for 85 yards while Bevil hit 3 of 7 passes for 19 yards with one TD and one interception.
Sophomore end Colton Johnson led the Golden Norse defense with eight unassisted tackles, five assists and two quarterback sacks for minus-11 yards.
Veteran's free safety Emmanuel Jones and linebacker Jayson Bates added seven solo tackles and four assists each respectively.