MIAMI, Okla. — Northeastern Oklahoma A&M took advantage of two turnovers in the first half and a couple of first downs in the waning minutes of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference semifinal game on Saturday to defeat Tyler Junior College 37-35.
It was the first playoff game for the Golden Norsemen (8-1) since 2003. NEO's lone loss of the season came at the hands of Tyler (5-4) in a 65-59 double-overtime game on Sept. 27.
NEO jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter on a 35-yard Kevin King field goal.
Tyler got on the scoreboard on a 39-yard touchdown pass from Tyrik Rollison to Jeremy Cappelle.
The Norsemen extended their lead to 17 with a 46-yard Michael Thompson pass and a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Clayton Mitchem.
A 70-yard pass from Mitchem to Garrett Powell, a 25-yard run touchdown and a field goal by King late in the second quarter gave the Norsemen a 34-7 edge at halftime.
A Tyler interception set up a field goal by Santiago Escobar that was blocked at the line. Escobar went on to miss another field goal in the third quarter from the 38-yard line.
In the second half, Tyler outscored NEO 22-3 and came within a two-point conversion run of winning the game.
Two personal fouls, an offside penalty and a 17-yard run pushed the ball to the Tyler 10-yard line in the middle of the third quarter. Lamar Carraway took the ball in for a touchdown, and Escobar added the extra point.
King kicked a 22-yard field goal in the third quarter, and a busted defensive play allowed Carraway to connect on a 61-yard pass to Tracy Smith. Chappelle added two points with a conversion run, narrowing the score 37-22.
Carraway connected with Tracy Smith on a 10-yard pass for a touchdown and Escobar added the extra point, which chopped NEO's lead to 37-29 in the fourth quarter.
Carraway hit Chappell on a 19-yard touchdown pass and a failed two-point conversion to make the score 37-35.
Casey Curtis picked up big first-down runs of 12 and 11 yards in the final four minutes of the game to eat up time on the clock.
Mitchem led NEO with 128 yards on 21 carries, and Curtis added 126 yards on 22 carries.
NEO will meet either Kilgore or Navarro on Nov. 10 at Robertson Field in Miami.