By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Dale Patterson, retiring head football coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, resumed work early on Monday.
Patterson, with a plunge into the task of finding a coach for the Golden Norsemen, will try to forget his final game as head coach.
NEO, ranked ninth by the NJCAA, lost 42-29 to No. 15 College of DuPage (Ill.) on Sunday in the fourth annual Citizens Bank Bowl at Carnie Smith Stadium on the campus of Pittsburg State University.
Patterson, 9-3 this season, wound up 72-34 in 10 years as the NEO head coach. The last two seasons and the previous eight (1996-2003) were sandwiched around seven years at Oklahoma State.
“We hope to have the new coach on campus by January 1,” Patterson said. “January, for us (junior colleges), is the key month for recruiting. It would be nice if we could name the head coach in two weeks. We probably will interview four or five candidates.”
NEO, in Sunday’s loss, had more yardage than the Chaparrals, 437-325, but suffered three interceptions — two were returned for touchdowns — and lost its two fumbles.
Said Patterson: “As coaches, we didn’t do a good job of convincing our players the importance of the game.
“We put so much emphasis on the conference regular season and the playoffs,” Patterson said. “We had a hard time getting the focus of the players back for this game.”
The Golden Norsemen won the regular season in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference at 5-1. But they lost 62-24 to Navarro in the playoff final after nipping Tyler 37-35 in the semifinals.
“College of DuPage (9-2) probably was better than we anticipated,” Patterson said. “We may have underestimated them a little. They rose up to play one of their best games.”
Patterson lamented the inconsistency of the offense despite it amassing 437 yards.
“We sure wanted to win,” Patterson said. “We kept hanging in there until late in the third quarter.”
A fumble set up the Chaparrals’ 53-yard drive that was capped by quarterback Patrick Ivy’s 3-yard run at 3:31 in the third that snapped the 14-14 tie Christian Lainez kicked the extra point after Ivy’s 23-yard scramble set up his TD.
Then Jaylan Bailey’s theft and 55-yard return made it 28-14 at 2:24.
Patterson is the last NEO coach to post 10 wins in a season. That 2003 team, 10-2, finished second in the NJCAA rankings after the Golden Norsemen beat host Coffeyville 30-27 in the Dalton Defenders Bowl.