MIAMI — Sophomore quarterback Clayton Mitchem wasn’t the only bright spot in Northeastern Oklahoma A&M’s 36-12 victory Saturday night against Highland (Kan.) Community College.
Playing in front of a crowd estimated at 2,000, the NEO defense scored two safeties, both on bad snaps when the Scotties were attempting to punt from deep in their own territory. Highland rushed for 189 yards and had 92 yards passing.
“Our defense got after them and didn’t give up big plays,” said NEO head coach Dale Patterson. “They ran the option and it’s tough not to give up any big plays.”
Instead, the big plays were reserved for the Golden Norsemen, who took a 22-6 lead late in the third quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Mitchem to tight end Troy Davis.
NEO struck again with 8 minutes, 53 seconds left in the game on a 52-yard pass from Mitchem to Michael Thompson for a 30-6 lead.
Highland’s longest drive of the game began late in the first quarter and covered 76 yards on eight plays, ending with a 3-yard touchdown run by Brian Handley with 13:07 left in the first half.
The Golden Norsemen responded with a seven-play, 65-yard drive that took just a minute and 32 seconds because of their no-huddle offense. Mitchem completed all four of his passes and ended the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run that gave NEO a 16-6 lead with 11:35 left in the half.
“We rallied a few times and overcame adversity,” Patterson said. “We’re just happy with the win.”
Mitchem completed 21 of 28 passes for 351 yards and no interceptions. NEO’s running game was led by Sheldon Wilson, who rushed for 55 yards on eight carries, and Gerald Howse, who rushed for 54 yards on 14 carries.
Mitchem scored NEO’s first touchdown on a 9-yard run one minute into the game. NEO added an 8-yard touchdown run by Wilson late in the fourth quarter.
The Norsemen will play Ellsworth (Iowa) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Robertson Field.