CORSICANA, Texas — Two teams maneuvering for position in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference collide at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, as the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen face the Navarro College Bulldogs at Tiger Stadium.
Coming off a 34-28 loss to No. 7 ranked Tyler, Texas, last Saturday in Miami, the Golden Norsemen stand 1-2 both in the conference and on the season.
“We did a good job last week as far as producing some points and playing on offense,” Golden Norse head coach Clay Patterson said. “We played really physical and we ran the ball well (284 yards on 46 carries).
“However, we gave up some big plays on the defensive side of the football,” Patterson said. “But, we played a really good football team and for us to win those types of games, we’re going to have to quit beating ourselves.”
NEO outgained the Apaches (3-0 and 1-0) by a 606-501 margin in total yards. The Norse offence was able to run 98 plays compared to 71 by Tyler.
“We left nine points out on the field and we lost by six, so that adds up to a win,” Patterson said. “We missed two field goals and three extra points and that will get you beat against a team like Tyler.”
Third-year head coach Cody Crill’s Navarro Bulldogs have yet to win a game in the two conference matchups and are 1-2 on the season.
Last weekend, the Bulldogs dropped a 27-12 decision to Blinn College at Brenham, Texas.
While all of the points for both teams were scored in the first half, Navarro rushed for 137 yards and threw for 201. Blinn finished with 439 total yards.
Last season, the Golden Norsemen earned a 51-46 victory over the Bulldogs in front of a large homecoming crowd at Red Robertson Field.
The win snapped a three-game winning streak by Navarro in the series that started in the 1977 Garland (Texas) Chamber of Commerce Bowl. Since the 2000 season, the Bulldogs own a 12-6 record in the series.
“Navarro is in the exact same situation as us,” Patterson said. “They won their first football game (23-7 at Georgia Military) and then lost the next two (25-17 against Trinity Valley) and then at Blinn.
“They had a chance to win both those games, but like us, they just didn’t put the ball into the end zone,” Patterson said. “While they have the ability to score, they are very, very talented on defense and are very solid.”
Under Patterson’s watchful eyes as offensive coordinator, the Golden Norsemen are averaging 483.7 yards per game
Expected to return to the Golden Norse starting lineup is veteran quarterback Cordale Grundy. Late in the third quarter against Tyler, Grundy was shaken up on a hit.
Redshirt sophomore Wyatt Steigerwald replaced Grundy and in one quarter of play,completed 16 of 24 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Grundy finished by completing 16 of 28 for 158 yards and one TD.
“We’ve felt all along that we have two quarterbacks that we can win with, so there wasn’t any hesitation going with Wyatt,” Patterson said. “But, Cordale is our starter and he’s back and ready to go.”
Although redshirt freshman Darran Williams gained 119 yards on 11 carries against the Apaches, redshirt freshman Darwin Thompson leads NEO’s ground game with 339 yards on 48 carries and four touchdowns in three games.
Nine sophomores have caught at least one pass as part of the NEO receiving corps. Wide out Kobe Bryer leads the team with 13 receptions for 145 yards and one TD.
NEO’s defense, surrendering an average of 328 total yards per game, is led by sophomore defensive back Aliik Sezer.
Through three games, Sezer has recorded nine unassisted tackles and 19 assists.
Veteran linebacker Dillon Hall has made three solo tackles with 24 assists while sophomore defensive end Isaiah Johnson has four solo tackles and 20 assists.
Navarro entered the 2017 campaign with 26 sophomores on an 84-man roster.
Featuring a pass-oriented offense, the Bulldogs are averaging 354 total yards per game. The defensive unit is allowing an average of 318 total yards per game.
Redshirt freshman Harry Woodberry and sophomore Kyle Fuller have split duties under center for the Bulldogs.
Woodberry has completed 50 of 88 passes for 479 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. While Fuller has completed 22 of 38 passes for 199 yards with two interceptions.
Sophomore running back DeAndre Cook leads the Navarro ground game with 191 yards on 42 carries and one TD.
Redshirt sophomore Mori Evans has gained 145 yards on 31 carries with one touchdown.
Leading the Bulldog receiving corps is sophomore wide out Matthew Reyna with 16 catches for 119 yards while veteran Warren Frye has 11 receptions for 154 yards.
Veteran defensive end Jordan Carmouche paces the Bulldog defense with 18 unassisted tackles and 10 assists.