Steigerwald solid in NEO win at Navarro

NEO Sports
Monty Franks

CORSICANA, Texas — Erupting for 24 points during a 12-minute span in the first two quarters, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Golden Norsemen earned a 40-30 Southwest Junior College Football Conference victory Saturday over Navarro College at Tiger Field.

With the win the Golden Norsemen stand 2-2 in both the conference and the season. The Norsemen return to Red Robertson Field for a 6 p.m. conference matchup at 6 p.m. next Saturday with Kilgore (Texas) College.

Going into Saturday’s SWJCFC game at home against No. 6 ranked Blinn College, the Rangers are 1-0 in the league and 2-1 overall.

Coach Cody Crill’s Navarro Bulldogs are winless in three conference games and 1-3 on the season.

Two minutes into the first quarter, NEO starting quarterback Wyatt Steigerwald threw an interception to Navarro’s Benjie Franklin that squelched the Norse opening possession.

Navarro reciprocated on their first possession 0:29 second later as quarterback Harry Woodberry’s fumble was recovered by NEO linebacker Dillon Hall.

Unable to score a touchdown in the last 95:58 minutes, the Bulldogs snapped the drought with a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Harry Woodberry to Matt Reyna with 9:42 left in the first quarter. Benigno Heredia kicked the extra point for a 7-0 Bulldog lead.

Less than three minutes later Heredia booted a 26-yard field goal as Navarro maintained a 10-0 cushion.

A fumbled snap by Woodberry was scooped up be NEO linebacker RJ Goodman and returned 53 yards for a touchdown. The PAT by Tommy Heatherly with 1:43 left in the first quarter created a 10-7 Golden Norse deficit.

Steigerwald, replacing veteran Cordale Grundy under center, guided the Golden Norsemen 90 yards in 11 plays to continue NEO’s comeback.

Redshirt sophomore tight end Jace Sternberger caught a 24-yard TD pass from Steigerwald on a crossing route to give the Norse the lead for good. Heatherly’s point-after with 11:29 left until halftime created a 14-10 Norse margin.

Caught in a momentum shift, the Golden Norse defense forced a 3-and-out possession by the Bulldogs and created some frustration on Navarro’s team.

Two personal foul penalties by the Bulldogs’ defense enabled the Norsemen to cover 58 yards in six plays to increase the lead.

Steigerwald found sophomore wide out Demond Sampson open on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 8:08 showing on the clock. Heatherly kicked the extra point for a 21-10 Norse cushion.

After the Golden Norse offense was held on their next possession, Heatherly kicked a 40-yard field goal to increase the lead to a 24-10 margin.

Navarro defensive back Trevor Denbow intercepted an errant Steigerwald pass and returned it to the NEO 38-yard line.

With time winding down, the Bulldogs received a 5-yard TD pass from Woodberry to Devonte Mims. The extra point kick was blocked as the Bulldogs trailed by a 24-16 deficit with 0:54 seconds left until halftime.

Wasting no time, Steigerwald’s passing moved the Golden Norse inside the Navarro 1-yard line with 0:13 seconds left on the clock. Two straight quarterback sneaks just inches from the goal line were stuffed by the Bulldogs as the Norsemen carried a 24-16 lead to the locker room at intermission.

Both teams started the third quarter with mistakes. Woodberry lost a fumble to NEO defensive tackle Worenn Davis to start the quarter.

Golden Norse sophomore running back Darwin Thompson had a 53-yard touchdown run erased by a holding penalty the first time NEO touched the ball.

Midway through the quarter redshirt freshman Darran Williams shredded the Bulldog defense for a 40-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion pass failed as NEO maintained a 30-16 advantage with 6:10 showing on the clock.

Needing just 0:09 seconds to execute a punt return, NEO specialist Marquan Greene raced 68 yards for a TD. Heatherly’s point-after gave the Norse a 37-16 lead heading into the final 15 minutes.

Riley Hawthorn kicked a 24-yard field goal at the 11:45 juncture to provide NEO with a 40-16 cushion.

Marching 75 yards in 15 plays and consuming 4:31 on the clock, the Bulldogs scored on a 3-yard TD run by running back DeAndre Cook. Woodberry’s two-point conversion pass was knocked down as Navarro trailed 40-22 with 7:14 remaining in the game.

The Bulldogs’ onside kick was recovered by Franklin at the NEO 42-yard line.

Navarro moved down to the NEO 3-yard line where Woodberry tried to connect with wide out Josh Lister on a fourth down pass. Lister dropped the ball to end the threat.

After forcing a 3-and-out from the Golden Norsemen, the Bulldogs needed only three plays to cover 56 yards for a score.

Newly activated quarterback Derrick Ponder replaced Woodberry and lobbed a 16-yard TD pass to Kaylon Geiger with 1:05 remaining in the game. The Ponder-to-Geiger combination clicked on the two-point conversion pass for a 40-30 score.

NEO recovered the ensuing on sides kick and ran out the clock to end the game.

The Golden Norse ground game rushed for 195 total yards on 32 carries. Thompson led the assault with 100 yards on 12 attempts while Williams contributed 90 yards on 10 carries.

Steigerwald completed 21 of 36 passes for 268 yards and one interceptions and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Nic Burns went 0 for 3 under center.

Koby Bryer paced the NEO receiving corps with 5 catches for 78 yards. Antwan Woods added 5 receptions for 26 yards.

Navarro earned 194 yards on 52 carries led by Cook with 152 yards on 29 attempts.

The horizontal passing game of the Bulldogs included Woodberry completing 22 of 46 passes for 204 yards while Ponder connected on 2-of-3 passes for 27 yards.

Reyna led the Bulldogs with 5 receptions for 65 yards while Lister caught 5 passes for 68 yards.