By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
MIAMI, Okla. —
Kevin King kicked field goals from 42 and 34 yards in the fourth quarter to lift Northeastern Oklahoma A&M past Navarro 26-24 in a Southwest Junior College Football Conference showdown on a crisp Saturday.
King’s 34-yarder erased a 24-23 deficit with 1:51 minutes remaining at Robertson Field.
The win gave Dale Patterson’s eighth-ranked Golden Norsemen (8-1 overall, 5-1) the outright SWJCFC crown. No. 7 Navarro, from Corsicana, Texas, slipped to 7-2, 4-2.
NEO also secured home field for the playoffs with its next game tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m. next Saturday.
The Golden Norsemen and their fans had to endure a final effort by the Bulldogs that set up their fellow freshman kicker, Patrick Sohrt, for a likely game-winning field goal from 46 yards with 23 seconds left.
Sohrt’s boot against the wind seemed on target — the holder, in fact, lifted the kicker in exultation — but the question was distance. The ball fell several yards short to ignite a tumultuous celebration among the NEO players, coaches and fans.
Said Navarro coach Brian Mayper: “Patrick has a great leg and I was confident. It came off hard and right. But it just didn’t have the distance.”
Clayton Mitchem threw scoring passes of 13 and 14 yards to Kameron Doolittle in the third period for NEO as the offenses heated up after a defense-dominated first half.
The teams combined for 8-for-20 accuracy passing in the first half for just 31 yards as well as two picks. They also combined for 145 yards on 13 penalties.
NEO led 6-3 on Gerald Howse’s 3-yard scoring run in the first quarter. King was low on the extra point, however, and Sohrt kicked a 33-yard field goal later in the period.
“I had to put the miss behind me,” said King, from Jenks. “You can’t let it linger.
“This is my first game-winning field goal since I was on the freshman team,” King said. “I did it in the seventh grade, too. But nothing like this. It was a lot sweeter considering it helped us win a conference championship.
“It’s crazy. I get happy. These situations make me laugh,” a grinning King insisted.
Said Patterson: “We made too many mistakes. We may have had more turnovers and penalties than in any of our previous games this season.
“But we kept battling,” Patterson said. “We stayed together.
“Our defense really, really played well,” Patterson said. “We put them in some tough situations.”
NEO lost three of four fumbles, threw an interception and had nine penalties for 105 yards.
“I wasn’t surprised by a two-point game,” Patterson said. “They are the most talented team we’ve seen this season.
“This game proves we can win the conference with a bunch of Oklahoma guys,” Patterson said. “Today, we also suited up four out-of-staters.”
Navarro, which received scoring runs of 5 and 4 yards from Traylon Shead and a 15-yard scoring run from Stump Godfrey, rushed for 268 yards in besting NEO 382-325 in total yards.
Shead rushed for 101 yards on 19 carries for the Bulldogs. Mitchem threw for 150 on 12 of 23 with Doolittle catching seven passes for 96 yards. Howse was the leading NEO rusher with 70 on 15 carries.