Edits, adds information
MIAMI — A 21-point burst in the final 6:12 of the second quarter put the wheels in motion for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M’s 42-9 homecoming victory over the Cisco (Texas) College Wranglers Saturday, Oct. 7, at Red Robertson Field.
‘We started slow, which was kinda unfortunate because we thought we had a really good plan,” head coach Clay Patterson said. “Our kids just got a little bit distracted and didn’t come out real focused on offense at the start of the first quarter. But the second quarter is what we can be on offense.”
“We finally got rolling on all cylinders. We’re still not quite there yet, but when it happens, we can be as good as anybody in the country.”
Eleven members of the 1967 national championship team were on hand to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
After neither team found the end zone in the first quarter, the Wranglers (2-4 overall and 1-4 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference) drove 69 yards in six plays before Ignacio Correa connected on a 38-yard field goal at the 13:38 juncture.
Following a 53-yard punt return by Cisco’s Duntayviun Gross, the Wrangler offense stalled and Correa trotted onto the field for a 25-yard field goal attempt. The kick sailed wide left with 10:06 until halftime.
Pinned deep in its own territory on the next series, NEO (4-2, 4-2) marched 85 yards in five plays to grab the lead for good.
Playing his last regular season game at home, redshirt sophomore wide out Marguan Greene hauled in a 30-yard TD pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback Wyatt Steigerwald with 6:12 showing on the clock. Riley Hawthorn kicked the first of six extra points to produce a 7-3 Norse lead.
Redshirt sophomore tight end Jace Sternberger ran a post pattern and Steigerwald hit him in stride for a 22-yard TD pass play. Hawthorn’s PAT with 2:13 until intermission created a 14-3 Norse cushion.
Following another solid performance by NEO’s defense, the Norsemen took control at the Cisco 42-yard line.
Steigerwald found redshirt freshman Kobe Bryan open on the edge for a 15-yard touchdown pass. The point-after by Hawthorn with 45 seconds left allowed NEO to carry a 21-3 margin to the locker room at halftime.
A terrible snap at the 11:26 mark of the third quarter sailed way over Hawthorne’s head on a fourth-and-18 play
It was recovered by Hawthorne at the Cisco 4-yard line.
Cisco’s Andre Johnson took the direct snap and scored from 4-yards out on the Wrangler’s first play. The extra point kick went wide left as Cisco trailed 21-9.
“We just made some mistakes with our snaps and things that hurt our moment like penalties,” Patterson said. “There were a lot of distractions. We let some of the distractions and the emotion of playing their last game here at home get in our way. We can’t do that against really good football teams. We will get into a situation we can’t get out of.”
NEO marched 66 yards in nine plays before freshman wide out Joe Combs caught a 5-yard TD pass from Steigerwald with 6:41 showing on the clock. Hawthorn’s PAT gave the Norsemen a 28-9 advantage.
Faced with covering 93 yards on their next possession, Steigerwald threw five straight passes before finding Marquan Greene streaking down the left side for a 46-yard TD pass.
The extra point by Hawthorn at 2:05 gave NEO a 25-9 margin entering the fourth quarter.
With 5:05 left in the game, redshirt freshman Darwin Thompson split the Wrangler’s defense for a spectacular 63-yard touchdown run. Hawthorn nailed the point-after.
Thompson paced the Golden Norseman ground game with 122 yards on 11 carries while Steigerwald added 40 yards on six attempts.
NEO amassed 287 yards on 34 carries with their ground game.
Steigerwald completed 19 of 27 passes for 252 yards and five touchdowns without and interception.
He came within one TD of tying the late Bubba Dudley for NEO’s single-game touchdown record of six set in 1967 against Marion (Alabama) Military Institute.
Nic Burns completed 3 of 5 passes for 32 yards without a turnover.
The Golden Norse defense limited Cisco to 105 yards on 25 carries and 133 yards passing.
“You are talking about the No. 1 passing offense in our conference, a team that is averaging about 480 a game, 300-some passing,” Patterson said. “They played really, really well, created turnovers and didn’t give them any big plays. That team thrives on big plays.”
NEO takes a break from SWJCFC action the next two weeks. The Golden Norse make the 52-mile trek to Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Red Ravens fell to 1-5 (1-3 in the Kansas Jayhawk Junior College Conference) with a 41-32 loss at Garden City (Kansas) Community College.
NEO then tackles winless Arkansas Baptist in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Saturday, Oct. 21.