MIAMI — Northeastern A&M was a big winner Saturday, but also a loser in the final game of the regular season in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference.
Despite a 48-30 blowout of Cisco (Texas) College Saturday, Oct. 26 at Red Robertson Field, it was two of their conference four losses that sealed the fate of the Golden Norsemen.
The Norsemen (4-5), Tyler, Navarro, Cisco and New Mexico Military Institute all finished in a tie for third with 3-4 records in league play after Trinity Valley nipped Navarro, 45-44, Kilgore outslugged Tyler 34-28 in double overtime and NMMI beat Blinn 44-42 with a touchdown with 19.2 seconds left in the final games of the regular season.
Because of criteria, the Norsemen and Tyler were the odd-hands out.
NEO’s conference losses in 2019 were to Trinity Valley, Kilgore, Tyler and New Mexico Military and the win came against Navarro and Blinn back-to-back and Cisco.
“It was just a crazy year,” Norse head coach Zach Allen said.
First round pairings on Saturday, Nov. 2 include No. 4 New Mexico Military Institute at 1-seed Kilgore and Navarro at 2-seed Trinity Valley.
“There are a lot of good football teams that will be scratching their heads next week, feeling like they had a chance to be right there in the hunt, not only for a title spot, but a home field spot,” Allen said. “When you look at the 1-seed, we are one possession away from beating them (instead falling 28-21).”
Saturday’s game was nip-and-tuck through the first two quarters.
The Norse grabbed a 21-17 lead with eight seconds left in the half when Chris Potts snagged a 3-yard pass from Jack Diamond.
Cisco nipped at NEO’s heels in the second half and it took a 10-yard run from Chris Friday with 42 seconds remaining to create the final 18-point margin.
“It good to see all three sides executed,” Allen said. “The quarterbacks played well, we got the running game going and the defense played with their normal confidence.”
The Golden Norse put together 480 yards in total offense, 294 on the ground and 186 passing.
“It was good to see the offense churn like they know they can. It all starts up front,” Allen said. “The offensive line probably played one of their best football games all year. That is a beat up group that has dealt with a ton of injuries up front; and the running backs, to be honest.”
Friday had a season-best 143 yards on 18 carries. He popped up the middle for a 64-yard touchdown on the first play of the third quarter and added the 10-yarder late.
Potts chipped in with 45 yards rushing and had three scores.
One was a bizarre play where quarterback Jack Diamond was gliding to a 45-yard touchdown — but had the ball knocked loose at about the 15 with Potts grabbing it and continuing on into the end zone.
In addition to the 3-yard catch just before the break, Potts also was on the receiving end of an 8-yard TD strike.
Jack Diamond added 43 yards and one touchdown rushing, Tanner Griffin 34 and Daniel Oscar 43, whose playing time was limited by an ankle sprain late in the second quarter.
“I told the guys after the game ‘don't let the frustrations of a couple weeks past outweigh the success of this game,” Allen said. “You go back to the drawing board, go out and recruit and hope these guys (the sophomores) get a great home. There are a lot of guys that can deserve it.”