NEO Football Homecoming Schedule
RELEASE FROM NEO ATHLETICS:
MIAMI — Numerous homecoming activities throughout the week on the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College campus culminate at 6 p.m. Saturday as the Golden Norsemen play their final regular season home game against Cisco College at Red Robertson Field.
Under the theme of Peace-Love-Homecoming, activities on campus started on Wednesday with the decoration of classroom buildings and student housing. Judges will select the best decorations on Friday.
The annual Homecoming Royalty Pageant will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Fine Arts Center. Twenty candidates are representing 14 campus organizations.
A dance will follow the pageant in the Calcagno Family Ballroom of the Bruce Carter Student Union.
Students will participate at 7 p.m. Friday in a pep rally featuring the Norse Stars, the Golden Norse Cheerleaders and the Norwegian Legion band on Red Robertson Field.
Several members of the 1967 NJCAA National Champion football team will meet at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, in the O Club room of the NEO Field House for coffee and donuts.
During an Outstanding Alumni Banquet at noon in the Calcagno Family Ballroom, the 1967 National Championship team will be introduced along with five NEO Outstanding Alumnus.
A homecoming parade will start at 4 p.m. on East Central and circle the campus.
Prior to the opening kickoff between the Golden Norsemen and the Cisco Wranglers, a tailgate party starting at 4:30 p.m. will be held in the area west of the stadium. Cost of the meal is $6 per person and $5 for children ages 5-10. The price also includes admission to the game.
The five outstanding alumni recipients will be honored between the first and second quarters while the winners of the royalty pageant will be introduced during halftime activities.
After earning a 40-14 victory last Saturday over the Navarro (Texas) College Bulldogs, the Golden Norsemen are 3-2 in both the Southwest Junior College Football Conference and the overall season.
“Even though we had two turnovers against Navarro, we’re really starting to play like we’re supposed to play,” Golden Norse head coach Clay Patterson said. “We’re playing fast and physical, we’ve just got to stay consistent and not beat ourselves.”
First-year head coach Russell Thompson has guided the Cisco Wranglers to a 1-3 conference record and a 2-3 season mark. Prior to an open date last week, the Wranglers dropped a 61-33 SWJCFC decision at Tyler, Texas.
Since creation of the series in 1975, NEO maintains a 31-5 advantage. Last year the Golden Norsemen cruised to a 60-26 win at Chesley Field to extend their current streak to five straight wins over the Wranglers.
Cisco’s last victory in Miami was a 27-26 nail-biter at Red Robertson Field in 2011. The Wranglers also posted a 40-26 win over the Norsemen in 2010 south of the Red River.
With only 20 returning sophomores included on their roster, the Wranglers have returned to being a pass-oriented offense. While generating 482 yards per game in total offense, Cisco is gaining an average of 296.4 total yards via the pass and 185.6 yards on the ground.
“In this league, depending on your performance week in and week out, anybody can beat anybody,” Patterson said. “Cisco is a much improved football team and they’ve got back to throwing the ball more which is more difficult to defend.”
Sophomore Manny Harris (6-3, 215 from Copperas Cove, Texas) ranks fifth in nation with 12 passing touchdowns. Harris has also thrown seven interceptions while completing 137 of 221 passes for 1,409 yards. He also has 37 rushes for 75 yards.
Freshman running back Eric Tilghman (6-3, 210 from San Antonio, Texas) leads the Wranglers ground game with 281 yards on 52 carries and five touchdowns. He has five catches for three total yards.
Leading the Wrangler receiving corps is freshman Daniel Lee (6-0, 183 from Breaux Bridges, Louisiana) with 30 catches for 493 yards and five TDs.
Sophomore wide out Duntayvin Gross (5-8, 165 from Tyler, Texas) has made 36 receptions for 292 yards and three touchdown.
The biggest bugaboo for the Wranglers has been turnovers. Seven interceptions and six fumbles have stalled several drives by the Cisco offense.
Cisco’s young and inexperienced defense has surrendered an average of 359.2 total yards per game. The Wranglers are allowing an average of 36.4 points per game.
Sophomore strong safety Ladarian McFarland (6-4, 200 from San Antonio, Texas) leads the Cisco defense with 36 unassisted tackles and nine assists.
Veteran defensive end Brylon Jefferson (6-1, 245 from Houston, Texas) leads the Wranglers with 9.5 quarterback sacks for minus-48 yards and 12.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for 39 yards. Jefferson ranks third overall in the nation in both categories.
With the start of the final regular season home game, 32 Golden Norsemen third-year, redshirt and regular sophomores will be making their final appearance on Red Robertson Field.
“I think we’re going to focus on that fact,” Patterson said. “These players have made memories that will last a life time and we’re not going to worry about much else.
“This will also be our last conference game in the next two weeks (at Coffeyville, Kansas, Oct. 14 and at Arkansas Baptist in Little Rock, Oct. 21), so we have a chance to be 4-2 in the conference before traveling to Brenham, Texas on Oct. 28 to face Blinn,” Patterson said. “We’re just going to focus on these things week by week and take care of business.”
The Golden Norsemen rank sixth in the nation by averaging 496 total yards per game. NEO’s 2,480 total yards is fourth highest at the two-year level.