MIAMI, Okla. — Moments after leading his team to a hard-fought victory, Guy Myers extended his right hand to his head coach.
Zach Allen didn’t shake his quarterback’s hand — he gave him a big hug instead.
It’s safe to say Myers earned the postgame affection.
Making his first start of the season, Myers led a second-half comeback as Northeastern Oklahoma A&M earned a 40-35 win over Tyler on a rainy Saturday night in a Southwest Junior College Football Conference clash at Red Robertson Field.
No. 13 NEO improved to 5-2 overall and 3-2 in conference play, while No. 22 Tyler fell to 4-3, 3-2.
A 6-foot-6, 205-pound sophomore from Woodbridge, Virginia, Myers directed the Golden Norsemen to 28 unanswered points in the second half.
“This win is huge,” Myers said. “I couldn’t have done it without my line, receivers, running backs … everybody. We all bought in this week. We knew if we stayed together, we could get the win.”
Myers said he knew all week he’d be starting under center in place of Clayton Sims.
“It was a blessing to get the opportunity,” Myers said. “Knowing that the coaches had the trust in me to start a pivotal game was a big morale boost.”
“He adds another element for us,” Allen said. “He started as a true freshman at Delta (State). So he’s got some snaps under his belt, just not here. He bought in this week and he made the right reads. And we were fortunate to overcome a couple of snafus.
“It’s not anything that Clayton didn’t do,” Allen continued. “Clayton is a damn good quarterback. Knowing the opponent we were facing, knowing the element of surprise we could bring, it was a move that had to be made. Guy brought something they hadn’t seen. Now teams will have to prepare for two quarterbacks.”
Taking the field on homecoming, the Norsemen marched 58 yards on six plays on their first drive, with Myers completing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Marcheenan Hair at the 12:02 mark of the first quarter.
The Apaches answered immediately, as Demias Jimerson returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards untouched to the end zone. Next, Trenton Kennedy’s nine-yard touchdown run put Tyler in front before a safety cut NEO’s deficit to 14-9 with 4:07 left in the first half.
The Norsemen had a chance to take the lead at the end of the first half, but the Apaches came up with a key goal-line stand, stuffing a quarterback keeper by Myers inside the 1-yard line.
The Apaches extended their lead on the first series of the second half, as quarterback Jeremiah Crawford scampered 28-yards into the end zone for a 21-9 advantage.
The Norse responded, going 81 yards on 11 plays, capped with a two-yard touchdown plunge by Darran Williams. NEO took the lead when Matt Ray hauled in a 22-yard touchdown pass from Myers with 1:50 left in the third period.
Next, Myers completed a 97-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson with 13:20 left in the game to extend his team’s advantage to 30-21.
After an interception by Shelby Washington gave the hosts great field position, NEO went up 37-21 after a two-yard scamper by Williams.
“We started clicking,” Myers said. “We worked together and we figured out what we needed to do to win.”
Tyler recorded back-to-back scores to get within two, a 24-yard touchdown pass to Justin Bailey and a 39-yard scoop and score by Brennon Davis after an NEO fumble.
Tommy Heatherly’s 34-yard field goal gave NEO a 40-35 lead with 2:07 left.
The Norsemen secured the win with a late defensive stand, as Tyler had the ball on the 16-yard line with 43 seconds left before a turnover on downs.
The late game stop was eerily similar to NEO’s game with Trinity Valley.
“We had some comfort in the fact that we’d been in the exact same situation before,” Allen said. “You have to give it up to Coach (Zach) Crissup for having the guys composed and assignment sound and playing with incredible effort. Tyler’s a really good team. Who knows, we could see them again.”
NEO travels to New Mexico Military Institute next Saturday.