MIAMI, Okla. — Staving off a second-half rally by the No. 4 seed Tyler Junior College Apaches, the top-seeded Northeastern A&M Golden Norsemen advanced to the Southwest Junior College Football Conference championship with a thrilling 37-35 victory before a large crowd on Saturday at Robertson Field.
Coach Dale Patterson’s fourth-ranked Golden Norse will host the Navarro College Bulldogs (8-2) at a time to determined next Saturday at Robertson Field.
Ranked 13th in the final regular season poll, the defending SWJCFC champion Bulldogs upset No. 2 seed and eighth-ranked Kilgore College (8-2) 42-14 Saturday at Kilgore’s R.E. St. John Stadium.
With the victory the Norsemen are 9-1, while the Apaches finish 5-5.
“This was a great win for our kids and our program,” Patterson said. “We haven’t been this far since we beat Trinity Valley here in 2003, so this has got to be exciting for our fans.”
When you include the regular-season 65-59 victory by Tyler in double-overtime, these two teams have combined for 195 total points in eight quarters of football.
“This was a typical SWJCFC game,” Patterson said. “There’s not a nickel’s difference between the top four teams and Tyler is the type of team that never quits. They showed that again today.”
After falling behind 34-7 at halftime, TJC almost completed the miracle comeback.
Tyler took the second half kickoff and covered 80 yards in 10 plays before reserve quarterback Lamar Carraway scored on a 10-yard run. Carraway replaced TJC quarterback Tyrik Rollison at the 7:42 juncture after a hard tackle on the sideline by NEO’s Ronnie Davis incapacitated the sophomore. Santiago Escobar’s extra point created brought the Apaches within 31-14.
A 23-yard kickoff return by Casey Curtis on the kick set up the Norse at the Tyler 47-yard line. Seven plays later Kevin King kicked a 29-yard field goal with 3:09 left in the third quarter for what would be NEO’s final points.
Carraway displayed an accurate passing arm with a 61-yard touchdown pass to Tracy Smith with 2:26 left in the third quarter. Carraway found Jeremey Chappelle open on the two-point conversion pass for a 34-22 deficit.
Tyler had an opportunity to inch closer with 10:14 left in the game, but a 38-yard field goal attempt with the wind at his back caused Escobar to miss wide left.
With the aid of two 15-yard penalties levied against the NEO defense, Tyler marched 85 yards in six plays before the Carraway-to-Tracy Smith combo clicked for a 10-yard TD pass. Escobar kicked the point-after with 6:01 remaining on the clock to close the deficit to a 37-29 score.
After a three-and-out series by the Norsemen, Carraway took to the airways with four straight pass competitions to Tracy Smith. The last one was a 19-yard touchdown on a crossing route.
Attempting to tie the game with 4:19 left on the scoreboard, Carraway misfired on the two-point conversion pass to Marquise Smith.
NEO quarterback Clayton Mitchem used the running of freshman tailback Casey Curtis to consume the remaining time on the clock to seal the win.
Both Mitchem and Curtis eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark as Mitchem led all rushers with 128 yards on 21 carries. Curtis added 126 yards on 22 carries.
Mitchem completed 14 of 29 passes for 241 yards with one interception as NEO generated 536 yards in total offense.
TJC running back Ryan Young and Carraway led the ground attack with 70 yards each.
Rollison hit on 14 of 25 pass attempts for 150 yards, while Carraway, the freshman from Lake Providence, La., connected on 11 of 15 for 157 yards. Both had an interception apiece.
Jeremey Chappelle led the Apaches with nine catches for 88 yards and two TD, while Tracy Smith had eight catches for 108 yards and two TDs.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 37,
Tyler Junior College 35
Tyler 7 0 15 13 – 35
NE Oklahoma 17 17 3 0 – 37
NEO – FG, Kevin King 35, 9:56
TJC – Jeremy Chappelle 39 pass from Tyrik Rollison (Santiago Escobar kick), 5:54
NEO – Kameron Doolittle 46 pass from Clayton Mitchem (King kick), 2:42
NEO – Mitchem 1 run (King kick), 0:27
NEO – Garrett Powell 70 pass from Mitchem (King kick), 6:52
NEO – Mitchem 25 run (King kick), 1:46
NEO – FG, King 22, 0:02
TJC – Lamar Carraway 10 run (Escobar kick), 6:00
NEO – FG, King 29, 3:09
TJC – Tracy Smith 61 pass from Carraway (Escobar kick), 2:26
TJC – Tracy Smith 10 pass from Carraway (Escobar kick), 6:01
TJC – Chappelle 19 pass from Carraway (pass failed), 4:19
First downs 25 26
Rushes-yards 36-146 56-312
Passing yards 309 224
Return yards 1 5
Passes-com-att-int 25-41-2 14-29-1
Punts-avg 2-33 4-42
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 9-95 9-75
RUSHING TJC, Young 15-70, Carraway 6-70, Dobbins 7-9, Hall 1-7, Marquise Smith 1-(-2), Rollison 6-(-8); NEO, Mitchem 21-128, Curtis 22-126, Howse 10-58, Wilson 1-0.
PASSING TJC, Tyrik Rollison 14-25-1-150, Carraway 11-15-1-157, Caleb Williams 0-1-0-0; NEO, Mitchem 14-29-1-224.
RECEIVING TJC, Jeremy Chappelle 9-88, Tracy Smith 8-108, Marquise Smith 6-83, JaVante Mack 2-30; NEO, Powell 4-108, Michael Thompson 3-30, Doolittle 2-59, Casey Curtis 2-11, Trey Stearns 2-6, Dawson Myers 1-10.