MIAMI — Colors galore are expected to be on display at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Miami Multi-Purpose Sports Complex at Red Robertson Field as the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen entertains the Tyler (Texas) Junior College Apaches during local school appreciation night.
Anyone wearing a local school spirit shirt that displays the school’s colors will be admitted free of charge, according to NEO athletic director Dale Patterson.
Prior to the 6 p.m. kickoff, a tailgate party hosted by Sodexo will be held starting at 5 p.m. on the west side of the stadium. Cost is $6 per person.
Last weekend, the Golden Norsemen made the first of three trips south of the Red River to Athens, Texas.
After trailing 17-14 at halftime, the Norsemen dropped a 27-14 decision to the No. 4 ranked and four-time defending Southwest Junior College Football Conference champions Trinity Valley Cardinals (3-0 and 2-0).
“Last Saturday was a hard fought ball game,” Golden Norse head coach Clay Patterson said. “We played great on defense, but didn’t execute enough on offense to come away with a victory.
“We learned a lot from the loss and our kids have bounced back and have worked this week to get ready for Tyler,” Patterson said. “The defenses in our league have seemed to caught up with the offenses, with games coming down to special teams, turnovers and penalties.”
The Norsemen dropped from 11th into a tie for 15th with Independence (Kansas) Community College in the weekly NJCAA football poll.
Tyler remains seventh.
Even though NEO came out on the short end of the score, the Golden Norsemen outgained the Cardinals by a 356-327 margin in total yards.
“We finished with 16 penalties for 135 yards while they only had five for 45,” Patterson said. “So, obviously there were some calls that extended some of their drives.
“Then, we had a questionable one in the second quarter that took away a 75-yard touchdown on a punt return by Kevion McGee,” Patterson said. “It definitely had an impact on the game, but we allowed ourselves to get in those situations.”
With the loss the Golden Norsemen are 1-1 both on the regular season and in the SWJCFC.
“We didn’t execute on offense at a high level against a good Trinity Valley team,”
Patterson said. “We had poor execution from both our wide receivers and our quarterback.
“There was no route discipline by our receivers which resulted in several dropped passes,” Patterson said. “Plus our quarterback didn’t do a good job of connecting with an open receiver so there were some overthrows.
“All those things fall on the offensive coordinator,” Patterson said. “I didn’t do a good job of getting them prepared last week, but that won’t happen again.”
Hurricane Harvey forced a change in Tyler’s football schedule after the Apaches opened the season Aug. 26 with a non-conference 22-8 victory at Kilgore.
The Apaches entertained Houston’s Texas A&T College on Sunday, Sept. 3 in a game at Earl Campbell Field in Christ Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. Unplayable conditions forced a one-day delay in the matchup.
All of the points in the 56-0 shutout by Tyler were scored in the first half as the Apaches scored 28 points each quarter. Tyler generated 409 total yards while limiting Texas A&T to 67 yards.
Coach Danny Palmer’s Apaches feature 23 sophomores returning from a team that finished 5-4 last season and 4-3 in the conference. Tyler finished the season with back-to-back losses at Kilgore.
The Rangers won 50-29 in a game that was rescheduled after a lighting storm in August. The next week Kilgore defeated Tyler 58-51 in the conference semifinal playoffs.
“We worked real hard all week to get some rhythm and consistency in our passing game,” Patterson said. “We ran the ball well against Trinity Valley, but we’ve got to be able to make some plays in our passing game.
“We do it in practice,” Patterson said. “We’re just transferring it over to the game. We’ve just got to get out and play with confidence and get it done.
“Our kids are playing the way we want them to play in terms of effort, attitude and tempo,” Patterson said. “Now it just comes down to them executing with confidence and not playing outside the system and scheme.”
Sophomore Cordale Grundy starts under center for the Golden Norse with veteran Darwin Thompson and freshman Darran Williams alternating at running back.
Grundy has completed 28 of 65 passes for 297 yards and one touchdown. He has gained 118 yards on 23 carries with three TDs.
Thompson has rushed for 246 yards on 30 carries with three touchdowns while Williams has contributed 156 yards on 26 carries.
“Our defense played really well,” Patterson said. “But, all around the league the offenses aren’t generating the yards they have in the past.”
Sophomore linebackers Dillon Hall and Lamontre Huval pace the Golden Norse defense.
Hall has made two unassisted tackles and 13 assists while Huval has recorded six solo tackles and nine assists.
Averaging 400 total yards per game on offense, the Apaches are led by freshman Brennen Wooten at quarterback. Freshman Jeremy Wilson along with sophomores JT Smith and Shannon Vaughns are alternating in the Tyler backfield.
Wooten has completed 14 of 26 passes for 162 yards and four touchdowns. He has gained 17 yards on three carries with one TD.
Wilson leads the Apaches with 164 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns.
Smith has gained 159 yards on 17 carries while Vaughns has contributed 106 yards on 17 attempts.