#8 NEO Wins Thriller vs. #11 Blinn
Saturday night was a fun night for the NEO Golden Norsemen.
NEO got a game winning touchdown pass from QB Wyatt Steigerwald to TE Jace Sternberger with 1:28 remaining to beat the Blinn Buccaneers 38-34 in the SWJCFC semifinals.
It was a back and forth second half. Blinn actually came back and took a 10 point lead in the 4th quarter, but after a Cortez Watson 16 yard rushing touchdown, and the passing touchdown from Steigerwald to Sternberger, the Norsemen walked away with a four point win.
NEO now moves on to play Trinity Valley next week for the regional title.
RELEASE FROM NEO ATHLETICS BELOW:
A staunch defensive stand on fourth down by NEO resulted in a 29-yard, three-play scoring drive less than one minute later.
Freshman running back Cortez Watson concluded the drive with a 16-yard TD run. Ryan Hawthorn’s point-after closed the deficit to a 34-31 margin.
Despite a 58-yard punt by Blinn’s Reed Bowman that pinned NEO back at their own 6-yard line, the Norsemen needed only five plays to regain the lead.
Veteran running back Darwin Thompson broke loose on a 40-yard run to start the comeback for the Norse. Wide out Marquan Greene took a reverse handoff and dashed 11 yards.
A pass by NEO quarterback Wyatt Steigerwald of 14 yards to KJ Wells moved the Norse to the Blinn 35-yard line.
Steigerwald avoided a heavy rush by the Bucs defensive front four and connected with tight end Jace Sternberger for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Hawthorn’s extra point with 1:27 showing on the clock gave NEO a 38-34 margin.
Blinn began the game by scoring on their second possession. After a fumble by Steigerwald was recovered by cornerback Jerick Pitre at the NEO 38-yard line.
The Williams-to-Reed combination click on the first play with 12:56 left in the opening quarter. Buckley’s extra point a gave Blinn a 7-0 lead.
With 5:20 left in the first 15 minutes, Buckley had a 22-yard field goal attempt fail as the ball bounced hard off the right upright back to the line of scrimmage.
NEO drove 86 yards in just three plays to tie the score in the first 0:22 seconds of the second quarter.
Greene caught a 76-yard bomb from Steigerwald in stride to reach the end-zone. The PAT by Hawthorn produced a 7-7 tie.
Once again, NEO’s defensive unit prevented Blinn from making a first down on a 4 th -and-1 call at the Bucs 39-yard line.
Steigerwald scrambled and found wide out Kobe Bryer open on a 22-yard touchdown pass at the 10:59 juncture. Hawthorn’s extra point allowed the Norse to grab a 14-7 lead.
Fueled by three consecutive NEO penalties, the Buccaneers moved 85 yards in 10 plays.
Buckley’s 25 yard field goal with 4:45 until halftime created a 14-10 deficit for Blinn.
Steigerwald took the Golden Norse offense to the air in the final four minutes with five straight pass completions.
The final pass was a 10-yard TD throw to Greene with 0:39 before intermission. Hawthorn tacked on the point-after to give NEO a 21-10 halftime lead.
Blinn received the second half kickoff and drove 81 yards in six plays to put points on the scoreboard. Grace uncorked a nifty 53-yard run straight up the middle to ignite the drive.
Reed caught a 16-yard TD pass from Devin Williams and Buckley kicked the extra point to create a 21-17 deficit at the 12:19 mark.
Buckley’s second attempt at a field goal from 43 yards out fell short of its mark with 9:48 left in the third quarter.
The Golden Norsemen got bit by some bad luck after a 29-yard touchdown pass from Steigerwald to Wells was nullified at the 8:29 juncture because of an offensive lineman down field penalty.
Hawthorn nailed a 31-yard field goal with 5:31 left to give NEO a 24-17 cushion.
Not to be outdone, Buckley hit a 27-yard field goal with just 0:59 seconds remaining in the third quarter for a 24-20 deficit.
Thompson rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries as the Golden Norse offense earned 124 yards on 36 carries. Watson added 22 yards on three carries and one TD.
Steigerwald completed 20 of 35 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. Cordale Grundy and KJ Wells each threw one incomplete pass.
Wells led the Norse receiving corps with six catches for 99 yards while Greene contributed four receptions for 96 yards. Freshman wide out Marcheenan Hair caught four passes for 59 yards.
Carlos Grace led all runners with 163 yards on 30 carries one touchdown. The Buccaneers rushed for 229 yards on 50 carries.
Devin Williams completed 10 of 23 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.
Reed caught six passes for 119 yards and three TDs. Sicory Smith added three receptions for 99 yards.
Northeastern A&M 38 Blinn, Texas 34
BCC 7 3 10 14 — 34
NEO 0 21 3 14 — 38
BCC — Dandre Reed 38 pass from Devin Williams (Ryan Buckley kick), 12:56
NEO — Marquan Greene 76 pass from Wyatt Steigerwald (Riley Hawthorn kick), 14:38
NEO — Kobe Bryer 22 pass from Steigerwald (Hawthorn kick), 10:59
BCC — FG, Buckley 25, 4:45
NEO — Greene 10 pass from Steigerwald (Hawthorn kick), 0:39
BCC — Reed 16 pass from Williams (Buckley kick), 12:19
NEO — FG, Hawthorn 31, 5:31
BCC — FG, Buckley 27, 0:54
BCC — Reed 31 pass from Williams (Buckley kick, 14:32
BCC — Carlos Grace 1 run (Buckley kick), 7:14
NEO — Cortez Watson 16 run (Hawthorn kick), 6:01
NEO — Jace Sternberger 35 pass from Steigerwald (Hawthorn kick), 1:27
First downs 23 25
Rushes-yards 50-229 36-124
Passing yards 247 339
Return yards -4 2
Passes-Com-Att-Int 10-23-0 20-37-1
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-1
Punts-avg 2-70.5 2-35.5
Penalties-yards 11-115 14-121
RUSHING: Blinn, Grace 30-163, Williams 11-38, Reed 8-23, Jones, Jr. 1-5; NEO, Thompson 17-84, Watson 3-22, Greene 1-12, Steigerwald 15-8.
PASSING: Blinn, Williams 10-23-0-259; NEO, Steigerwald 20-35-1-339. Wells 1-0-0-0, Grundy 1-0-0-0
RECEIVING: Blinn, Reed 6-119, Smith 3-99, Hucks 1-29; NEO, Wells 6-99, Greene 4-96, Hair 4-59, Bryer 3-45, Johnson 1-25, Woods 1-8, Thompson 1-7.