The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


December 2, 2012

NEO falls to DuPage in Citizens Bank Bowl

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Five Northeastern Oklahoma A&M turnovers made it relatively easy for College of DuPage to beat the Golden Norsemen 42-29 in the fourth annual Citizens Bank Bowl on Sunday at Carnie Smith Stadium.

The Chaparrals, ranked 15th by the NJCAA, controlled the second half in spoiling the final for NEO head coach Dale Patterson.

College of DuPage (9-2) intercepted three passes from veteran Clayton Mitchem, the most valuable player in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference this season, and also recovered two fumbles by ninth-ranked NEO (9-3).

Patterson, who recently stepped down after a second stint as head coach (two after a previous stretch of eight), will remain as the NEO athletics director. He deeply wanted the Golden Norsemen to win their 10th game (it hasn’t been achieved since the 2003 campaign).

Patterson gathered his players at the north end of Brandenburg Field at Pittsburg State University after the game that was played in mostly sun, around 70 degrees and 15 mph wind from the southwest.

Said Patterson: “They (the Chaparrals) just outplayed us. They played better.

“I wish you all the best. I’m proud of you. We accomplished a lot. Things didn’t work out the last two games.”

Regular-season champion NEO lost its previous game to Navarro in the championship game of the SWJCFC playoffs.

“Congratulations to Coach (Gary) Thomas, his staff and College of DuPage,” Patterson said in the postgame press conference. “They were well-prepared.

“We may have played well enough defensively to win,” Patterson said. “But we seemed out of sync on offense.

“I don’t want this to spoil a great season,” Patterson said. “I’m very proud of what we accomplished. I’m very proud of the sophomores.

“I’m down a bit,” Patterson said. “It hurts. I wanted our guys to win that 10th game. What’s that saying, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’” Patterson said.

Said the Chaparrals’ Thomas: “Our defense gave us confidence. We were able to put pressure on the quarterback. We never got into a panic mode because of it (the defense). Perseverance was another key.

“We weren’t making plays early in the game,” Thomas said. “We were doing things wrong on defense on their first two touchdowns. I thought by the middle of the second quarter we were the better team.”

The MVPs in the game were members of the Chaparrals — freshman running back Tyreis Thomas (offense) and 6-foot-4, 300-pound veteran lineman Jeff Brown (defense).

Thomas, 5-11, 200, rushed for 102 yards on 22 carries and caught four passes for 30. Brown had an interception, two quarterback sacks and three tackles for minus 14 yards.

Leading tacklers for the winner were back Jaylan Bailey (12) and linebackers Dakarai Curry (10) and Logan Orso (10). Linebacker Jon Coleman totaled 10 for NEO.

Ikeem Higgs and Bailey returned thefts 22 and 56 yards for Chaparral TDs. Bailey’s TD and Christian Lainez’ kick made it 28-14 at 2:24 in  the third period.

Byron Dawkins’ 16-yard scoring pass to Andre Taylor on third-and-14 early in the fourth quarter swelled the College of DuPage advantage to 35-14. A muffed punt by NEO started that five-play, 24-yard drive.

Mitchem finished with 94 yards on 22 carries and 13 of 25 passing for 234.

Mitchem, who opened the scoring with an 18-yard run in the first period, hooked up with Tre Stearns for scoring passes of 44 and 38 yards in the second and fourth quarters, respectively. Stearns finished with five receptions for 122 yards.

Gerald Howse, who gained 53 yards on 15 carries, scored for the Golden Norsemen on a 2-yard run late in the game. Mitchem passed to Kendal Davis for the conversion.

Johnny Holton, a 6-3, 190 veteran wideout, injected life into the Chaparrals by answering the rushing touchdown by Mitchem — it had been scoreless after one period — with an 88-yard kickoff return to tie it on the ensuing kickoff.

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