BRENHAM, Texas — Just what did Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Golden Norsemen learn from their foray trip into Texas?
Head coach Zach Allen is hoping a lot.
NEO visits Blinn College Saturday, Oct. 6, in the second of its three regular season trips across the Red River.
The first trip south resulted in a 31-24 loss at Kilgore (Texas) College.
“We’ve got the lack of familiarity of a road game out of the way,” he said. “Just seeing a different place and sleeping in a different place … it’s not a shocking thing, but it’s getting out of the routine.
“That shouldn’t be a factor here now. They know how to get it done here at home. Now we just need to find a way to get it to translate it on the road. It’s easier once you’ve done it once.”
They also are faced with an Oct. 20 junket to Roswell, New Mexico, for a conference game with New Mexico Military Institute.
The Norsemen, 4-1 on the season and 2-1 in the SWJCFC, moved up to eighth in the weekly National Junior College Athletic Association rankings that were released Tuesday.
They had been No. 4 prior to the loss at Kilgore, dropping them to 10th.
The upward movement by the Golden Norse was part of a big shakeup in the rankings by teams who are 3rd through 20.
Darran Williams had a team-high 123 yards against Navarro. On the season, he has 553 yards and four touchdowns on 96 carries.
Carl Garmon is next with 63 carries for 387 yards and five TDs.
Quarterback Clayton Sims has completed 68 of his 135 pass attempts for 825 yards and five scores.
He was 14 of 24 for 144 yards and a touchdown against Navarro, which was limited to 310 yards in total offense.
The Bulldogs had been averaging 498.2 yards in total offense prior to the game with NEO.
Marcheenan Hair has 17 catches for 234 yards and two TDs, Tariq Bitson 16 for 200 and one and Juwan Johnson 12 for 111 yards.
Chris Potts, Williams and Adrian Wilson also have caught passes for touchdowns.
Grove sophomore Tommy Heatherly is 15 of 17 on extra point attempts and has converted on two of his three field goal tries.
Gervarrius Owens has 48 tackles and Patrick Rosette has been in on 36. LaRon Stokes and Ayodele Ologolo have 32 and 31, respectively.
The Norsemen logged a 35-26 upset win in last year’s regular season finale.
A week later, NEO rallied for a 38-34 come-from-behind victory in the conference playoff semifinals at Red Robertson Field.
A 35-yard strike from Wyatt Steigerwald to Jace Sternberger and the PAT by Riley Hathhorn with 1:27 remaining capped a rally that saw the Golden Norse erase a 10-point deficit.
The Norse beat Trinity Valley 26-10 the following week for the SWJCFC championship.
Blinn — which considers Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton as one of its more notable alums — is coming off a bye week.
In their last outing on Sept. 22, the Bucs suffered a 42-21 loss at Trinity Valley.
Blinn fell behind 14-7 in the first quarter and never could catch up.
The Cardinals used a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to nail down the win.
Blinn is pretty much a 50-50 team when it comes to offense, producing 1,475 yards passing and 1,262 on the ground.
Quarterback Daveon Boyd is a dual threat.
“A lot of the run game comes from the quarterback, plus he’s putting up a lot of yards through the air, so its going to be a challenge that we haven’t faced this year,” Allen said.
Gray has passed for 1,323 yards by completing 91 of 137 passes and has run for another 123 yards.
He’s thrown for 15 touchdowns and has scored twice on the ground.
Boyd has been intercepted six times.
Corey Smith and Keric Wheatfall have been his favorite targets.
Smith has 32 catches for 500 yards and four TDs while Wheatfall has 415 yards and three scores on 29 receptions.
Danny Gray also has seven receptions, five going for touchdowns.
The tandem of Carlos Grace — a second-team all-conference pick — and Devin McAdoo have combined for 803 yards, with Grace getting 454 of that.
Sophomore Zechariah Hopkins, who earned honorable mention all-conference honors at end a year ago, anchors a defense that has yielded 1,016 yards passing and only 475 yards via the run.
“They are coming off the bye week, so they are going to be fresh and they are going to be hungry,” Allen said.
Kickoff is at 3 p.m.
Following Saturday’s game in Brenham, the Golden Norse will celebrate homecoming on Oct. 13 against Tyler (Texas) College.