MIAMI — A year ago, Northeastern A&M wide receiver Marcheenan Hair had 24 catches for 320 yards, but no touchdowns.
He finally got one in Thursday night’s season opener against Arkansas Baptist and it was of SportsCenter worthiness.
Hair, who prepped at Lawton High, made a dazzling one-handed grab for a 37-yard touchdown to help the eighth-ranked Golden Norsemen roll to a 47-0 win at Red Robertson Field.
Hair was double-covered by ABC defensive backs Cleo Floyd and Johnathan West at the 1-yard line and a pass from Norse quarterback Clayton Sims was tipped by West.
Hair got a hand out, snagged the ball, made a juggling catch before getting it under control.
He rolled over twice and fell into the end zone.
“We had called ‘verts’ and it was one-on-one coverage,” Hair said. “I beat them and saw the ball in the air. I was trying to figure out how to get it. I saw two guys and they were jumping for the ball. I was going to play the tip.
“They tipped it back to me. After that, my reflexes came in and the rest was history. We work on that all the time.”
The extra point kick by Grove sophomore Tommy Heatherly gave the Norsemen a 21-0 lead that stood up through the half.
NEO added four more touchdowns in the second half to nail down the win.
“Marcheenan started most of the year last year,” said Allen, who had a successful debut as NEO’s head coach. ‘It was almost a running joke — even though it wasn’t that funny — that he hadn’t had a touchdown and had a bunch of catches.
“To see him get his first after so much experience and 18 months of it, was fun to see. He was pretty excited. It was fun to see the rest of the guys happy for him.”
“Last year I knew I had a lot of upperclassmen over me. It didn’t bother me,” Hair said.
Darran Williams’ 41-yard touchdown romp on NEO’s first offensive play set the tone for a night that got sloppy at times.
“We had to battle for this one,” Allen said. “We know the intensity is going to ramp up and we hope the old adage ‘your best improvement is going to be your first game to your second game. If we can do that and keep the emotions in check, we will be fine.”
After the romp by Williams 18 seconds into the game, the Norse wouldn’t score again until there was 6:55 left in the half then scored again on Hair’s reception 2:55 later.
“We just never got into rhythm early,” Allen said. “A lot of that was field position. Some of that was just a little bit of rust and new guys working together.”
NEO’s defense was of the “bend but never break” variety.
The Buffaloes, had romped to wins against two prep schools, coughed the ball up seven times.
They also had drives thwarted at the NEO 4-, 16-, 14-, 4- and 21-yard lines over the course of the night.
“It was a good test for those guys to see what they could do with their backs against the wall,” Allen said. “They did what I thought they would. It didn’t matter where they were or how it happened. They just went to work.”
Williams and Carl Garman each had two touchdowns and Micah Cooper added one.
Sims and No. 2 signal caller Gus Myers each had a TD pass for the Norsemen.
NEO remains at home to host Georgia Military College on Saturday, Sept. 8.