ATHENS, Texas — Ineffective passing and excessive penalties cost No. 11 ranked Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Saturday, Sept. 9, as the Golden Norsemen dropped a 27-14 decision to No. 4 rated Trinity Valley Community College.
With the loss, the Golden Norsemen are 1-1 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference and 1-1 on the season.
The four-time defending conference champions Cardinals are 2-0 in the SWJCFC and 3-0 on the season.
Since losing to NEO 30-29 in the third game of the 2016 season, Trinity Valley has won 12 consecutive games.
NEO returns to the friendly confines of Red Robertson Field at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, for a conference clash with Tyler Junior College. Anyone wearing t-shirts reflecting their school’s mascot will be admitted free to the game.
Although the Golden Norse passing game completed 14 of 37 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown, there were six overthrown balls and five dropped passes by NEO receivers.
Trinity Valley received five of 24 total first downs on penalties committed by the Norsemen. NEO finished with 13 penalties for 135 yards while the Cardinals were ticketed 10 times for 95 yards.
After deferring the opening kickoff to the second half, NEO’s defensive unit shut down Trinity Valley on the opening possession of the game.
The Golden Norsemen covered 68 yards on six plays in their initial possession to grab an early lead.
Quarterback Cordale Grundy slipped past the Cardinal defense for a 27-yard touchdown run at the 9:10 mark. The run up the middle came on a third-and-2 call.
Riley Hawthorn kicked the point-after to give NEO a 7-0 lead.
NEO’s offense was stifled on its second possession and forced to punt from deep in their own territory.
Trinity Valley wide out Tony Mullins fielded Hawthorn’s punt and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. Angel Sevier kicked the extra point to tie the game with 1:45 left in the first quarter.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter, Sevier trotted on the field and nailed a 47-yard field goal to produce a 10-7 Cardinal lead.
Grundy concluded a 54-yard, six play drive for the Norsemen by hitting wide out Antwan Woods in full stride for a 38-yard touchdown pass. Tommy Heatherly’s point-after boosted NEO to a 14-10 margin with 11:07 before halftime.
Playing their second straight game without their starting quarterback, the Cards relied on the talents of sophomore transfer Jaylon Henderson.
Over the next four minutes, Henderson gained 31 yards on four quarterback keepers to lead Trinity Valley 66 yards in eight plays.
The Cardinals regained the lead for good with 7:48 until intermission as sophomore running back Khalil Banks scored from 13 yards out. Sevier’s PAT gave Trinity Valley a 17-14 lead.
NEO had a nifty 75-yard punt return by redshirt freshman Kevion McKee with 4:05 before halftime erased by a block in the back penalty.
Trinity Valley’s defense surrendered 214 total yards (108 on 19 rushes and 106 passing) in the first two quarters. NEO limited the Cards to 159 total yards.
Neither team could cross the goal line in the third quarter as numerous penalties on both sides stopped any sustained drives.
With time winding down in the third quarter, the Cardinals drove 67 yards in seven plays for a touchdown.
Banks culminated the drive at the 13:16 juncture with a 7-yard TD pass from Henderson. The extra point by Sevier created a 24-14 Cardinal’s lead.
Covering 76 yards in nine plays, Trinity Valley received a 42-yard field goal by Sevier to increase the lead to a 27-14 margin with 6:06 remaining in the game.
During that drive four of the six first downs earned by the Cardinals came from NEO penalties.
NEO freshman defensive tackle Worenn Davis blocked a 28-yard Sevier field goal attempt with 1:46 remaining to end any more scoring.
The Golden Norse ground game amassed 231 yards on 42 carries led by redshirt freshman Darran Williams with 89 yards on 15 carries. Veteran running back Darwin Thompson earned 78 yards on 14 attempts while Grundy rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries.
Grundy completed 12 of 34 passes for 144 yards and one TD without an interception. Redshirt sophomore Wyatt Steigerwald completed 2 of 3 passes for 13 yards.
Sophomore wide out Antwan Woods led NEO’s receiving corps with four catches for 64 yards.
AJ Freeth contributed two receptions for 23 yards and Marcheenan Hair caught two passes for 11 yards.
Henderson rushed for 78 yards on 22 carries and Peytton Pickett added 80 yards on nine carries as Trinity Valley gained 261 yards on 56 carries.
Henderson also completed 7 of 23 passes for 53 yards.