Breakdowns, both mentally and physically, in all three phases of the game cost Northeastern A&M as the Golden Norsemen dropped a 65-24 decision to No. 1 ranked Navarro College at Robertson Field.
While snapping a modest two-game winning streak, coach Rob Green's Golden Norse stand 2-4 on the season and 2-2 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference.
Coach Nick Bobeck's Navarro Bulldogs have won 11 straight games and sit atop the National Junior College Athletic Association national poll with a perfect 6-0 record. The Bulldogs lead the SWJCFC with a 4-0 mark.
The Golden Norsemen make the 536-mile trek to Brenham, Texas, Saturday for a 3 p.m. showdown with 6th-ranked Blinn College at Spencer Field.
Blinn crushed Trinity Valley 55-20 on Saturday in Athens, Texas, to stand 3-1 in the conference and 5-1 overall.
Breakdown No. 1 for the Golden Norsemen was the lack of team tackling by the defensive unit.
Four of the nine Navarro scoring drives were less than 50 yards long.
With the score tied 14-14 in the first 1:14 of the second quarter, Navarro sophomore tailback William Powell broke off left tackle on a 67-yard touchdown run to put the Bulldogs ahead for good.
Powell, who had scored on a 4-yard run to give Navarro a 14-0 lead with 6:33 left in the first quarter, eluded several would-be NEO tacklers en route to the goal line.
As if Powell's long run wasn't tough enough for the Golden Norse defense to swallow, the Bulldogs scored with 6:18 left until halftime after Rodney Bradley hauled in a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Milton Howell. Bradley got behind NEO's secondary to catch the pass in stride to create a 28-14 advantage.
Navarro tacked on a 9-yard touchdown run with 47 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 35-21 cushion at halftime.
The 14-yard, two-play drive by the Bulldogs was set up by a 62-yard kickoff return by Justin Sturns.
During the second half, the Navarro ground game scored touchdowns on runs of 30 yards by Sturns, 17 yards by Howell, 8 yards by Vetric Sams and 18 yards by Sturns.
Three of the touchdowns and a two-point safety were created by NEO's breakdown No. 2: specialty teams play.
The safety occurred just 2:06 into the third quarter after NEO punter had his attempt blocked at the Norse 22-yard line.
The ball rolled out of the endzone in the control of Navarro cornerback Brandon Joiner to produce a 37-24 margin.
Punt returns of 21 yards by Sams and 63 yards by Anthony Brown shortened the field on the TD runs by Sturns and Howell.
A 23-yard fumble return by Navarro defensive end Tim Benford gave Navarro the ball for Sams' 8-yard touchdown run with 6:41 left in the game.
Breakdown No. 3 occurred in the ineffectiveness of the NEO passing game.
The Golden Norse ground game accumulated 221 yards on 60 carries while the aerial attack managed only 103 total yards.
Tailback Cardell Clemens continued his outstanding running by gaining 151 yards on 37 carries with one TD.
Meanwhile, freshman quarterback Trey Munden struggled throwing the ball in the second half after completing 10 of 12 passes for 69 yards in the first 30 minutes.
Munden, who missed seven straight passes after a 6-yard completion to start the third quarter, finished 14 of 24 for 103 yards with one TD and no interceptions.