Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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October 7, 2012

JUNIOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Slip and slide

TVCC drops 5th straight with 24-10 loss to NEO

ATHENS — The Cardinal Regiment band was ordered by referees to stop playing during any offensive series of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

Public address announcer Tom Sheram received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for commentary critical of the officiating — over the PA system.

And the Trinity Valley Community College offense — one of the best in the country annually — once again had very little to offer.

To say events at Bruce Field were bizarre Saturday would be to acknowledge that they’ve just been weird all season. The accumulation was a 24-10 loss to the Golden Norsemen that was the Cardinals’ fifth straight.

And just like that, a Cardinal team that was ranked No. 6 in the nation just 28 days prior will need to win both of their remaining games and get help to make the Southwest Junior College Football Conference playoffs.

The Cardinals (2-5, 0-4 in SWJCFC) have two games remaining — at home next Saturday against Blinn and at Tyler on Oct 20. While there are too many scenarios to accurately narrow down their chances, one more loss would almost certainly leave the Cardinals on the outside looking in.

Though the Cardinals scored first via a Saul Martinez 25-yard field goal four minutes into the game, the Golden Norseman (5-1, 2-1) roared back with 24 consecutive points to take control.

Kevin King’s 34-yard field goal evened the game at 3-3 late in the first quarter, and quarterback Clayton Mitchem’s six-yard run about two minutes later put NEO ahead, 10-3. Mitchem’s score was set up by a TVCC fumble at the Cardinal 23-yard line.

Mitchem’s six-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thompson put NEO ahead, 17-3, with 8:37 left in the third quarter, and Gerald Howse’s 14-yard scoring run three minutes into the fourth pushed the lead to 24-3.

The Cardinals finally reached the end zone with 11 seconds left on Hunter McCoy’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Gary Owens.

Once again, the Cardinal offense — playing without its starting quarterback and top two running backs — was hamstrung by a slow start.

Since ringing up 42 first-half points in the season opener against Southeast Prep, the Cardinals have struggled mightily over the first two quarters. Since that game, they’ve put a total of 26 points on the board in the first half. They’ve won just one of those games.

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