After a 45-minute rain delay, the Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen suffered a tough 27-26 come-from-behind loss to the Cisco (Texas) Junior College Wranglers Saturday afternoon before a sparse homecoming crowd at Robertson Field.
Rains that produced more than an inch of precipitation and frequent lightning forced the opening kickoff to be postponed from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
With the loss the Golden Norse remain winless after two games in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference and 2-2 on the season. The Wranglers are 1-0 in the conference and 2-1 overall.
The Norsemen experience an open date next weekend before beginning a two-game road trip south of the Red River on Oct. 1 in Kilgore, Texas.
A 35-yard field goal by sophomore placekicker Collin Yeary allowed the Golden Norsemen to build a precarious 26-21 lead with 8:14 remaining in the game. The field goal attempt was set up by a 27-yard interception return by veteran NEO middle linebacker Adrian Shoecraft.
Consuming almost three minutes on the clock, the Wranglers grabbed the lead on a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacob Morgan to wide receiver Al Stevenson with 5:22 left on the clock. The 6-4 Stevenson out-jumped NEO’s 5-8 cornerback Ricky Lawyer to make the catch.
Morgan overthrew Stevenson on the two-point conversion pass as Cisco grabbed a 27-26 lead.
Busted pass routes and dropped passes plagued the Golden Norse offense in their final four-play series as time ran down.
NEO drove 58 yards in eight plays on their opening possesion as tailback Gerald Howse scored on a 4-yard run. Yeary added the point-after for a 7-0 Norse lead with 11:16 left in the first quarter.
A bad snap from center sailed over NEO punter Garrett Powell’s head and out of the back of the endzone for a two-point safety on the Norsemen’s next possession. The Norse had a 4th-and-15 situation from their own 2-yard line.
On the ensuing punt by the Golden Norsemen, Cisco return specialist Kali Rashaad raced 65 yards for a touchdown as the Wranglers grabbed a 9-7 lead with 7:09 remaining in the first quarter. Cory McNeil kicked the point-after.
Sophomore quarterback Beau Marsaln rallied the Norsemen with a 50-yard touchdown pass to tailback Delans Griffin just two minutes into the second quarter. Yeary’s PAT created a 14-9 Norse lead.
Midway through the second quarter, NEO missed a ‘golden’ opportunity to score as Howse was tackled at the 1-yard line on a 4th-and-goal call.
Yeary connected on a 25-yard field goal with just 19 seconds showing on the clock as the Golden Norse carried a 17-9 lead to the locker room.
Cisco needed nine plays to cover only 36 yards after the kickoff to start the second half. But, McNeil had a 25-yard field goal attempt sail wide right at the 10:43 juncture.
Relying on the running of freshman fullback Troy Williams, the Wranglers covered 54 yards in nine plays on their next possession. Williams, who carried five times for 28 yards, scored on a 2-yard TD run with 2:25 left in the third quarter. NEO defensive end Danny Williams blocked McNeil’s extra point for a 17-15 deficit for Cisco.
Less than 17 seconds later, Griffin returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards to the Cisco 12 yard line. Freshman tailback Louis Durant took the handoff and scooted the remaining 12 yards for a touchdown as the Norse constructed a 23-15 lead with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
Yeary’s extra point attempt after Durant’s run, bounced off the right upright and was ruled no good to set up the dramatic fourth quarter..
Even though plagued by mistakes, the Golden Norse offense generated 245 total yards compared to 233 total yards by the Wranglers.
Despite a sloppy field, Durant led the Norse ground game with 49 yards on seven carries while Howse added 48 yards on 21 carries.
Marsaln completed 16 of 34 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
Tailback Jamal Nero paced the Wranglers ground game with 74 yards on 19 carries while Troy Williams added 54 yards on 15 carries.
Morgan completed 10 of 34 passes for 110 yards and one TD with one interception.