BRENHAM, Texas – Playing tough for all four quarters and a late field goal by Eric Piccione helped Blinn College football come away with a 31-30 come from behind victory over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Saturday night at Cub Stadium in Brenham.
The exhilarating victory improves the Blinn record to 3-1 and 1-1 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference. The Buccaneers are a perfect 3-0 at home so far.
"I just love the effort that these kids put into this game for all four quarters," said Blinn head coach Keith Thomas. "Robert Mitchell really made some good plays for us today."
The offense was sputtering early on for Blinn and NEO took advantage. NEO was able to add a field goal on its first drive of the game and then Piccione countered with a field goal of his own from 35 yards out to tie the game at 3-3 with 2:31 left in the opening quarter.
After testing the Blinn defense early on in the flat, NEO later struck with a double pass that worked to perfection as Khalil Warren hit Shannon Smith for 75 yards and a 10-3 lead for NEO. The Buccaneers defense held strong after that, only allowing an additional field goal as NEO led 13-3 at the half.
Offense woke up in the third quarter for Blinn and it was sparked by the defense as a safety by Trent Soechting to get the Buccaneers within 13-5. After recovering the ensuing kickoff, Mitchell scampered for a 36 yard touchdown run for to get Blinn within 13-11 with 11:06 left in the third.
Robert Mitchell was able to give the Buccaneers their first lead by finding his brother Garrison Mitchell in the flat and Garrison did the rest and 16 yards later walked in to the end zone for an 18-13 lead with 10:16 left in the third.
"The offense started out slow but we picked it up in the third quarter," said quarterback Robert Mitchell.
The lead didn't last long as NEO tacked on two touchdowns in the third quarter to grab a 27-18 lead with seconds left in the third. Mitchell later struck with his arm by hitting James Homan over the middle for a 52 yard touchdown to get the Buccaneers within 27-25 with 12:59 left in the game.
After that it was a stingy Blinn defense and the kicking game of Piccione that helped the Buccaneers come away with a victory. Traland Webber picked off a deflected pass and Tyrell Thompson scooped up a NEO fumble and rumbled his way close to the end zone.
"We play well as a team and we keep it up for all four quarters," Thompson said.
Piccione had two pressure field goals in the fourth quarter. Piccione hit a 32-yard field for a 28-27 lead and then hit the game winner from 41-yards away with 1:30 left. NEO had a chance with 90 seconds but the Blinn defense was able to hold strong to earn its first Southwest Junior College Football Conference victory.
Blinn will hit the road Sept. 19 to face Arkansas Baptist College at 1 p.m.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 32 NJCAA national championships since 1987. For more information, visit: www.buccaneersports.com.
About Blinn College
A comprehensive community college committed to educational excellence and to individual and community enhancement, Blinn College has served its 13-county Central Texas region since 1883. With an enrollment of 19,317 students, Blinn ranks among the nation's leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for affordable educational excellence.
Blinn offers job seekers the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the region's fast-growing industries, and partners with local businesses to provide skills development training for incumbent employees. Each year, Blinn programs and students make a $345.3 million impact on the local economy.
For more information about Blinn College and exciting student success initiatives such as Destination Success: First-Year Focus and the Blinn TEAM Program, visit: www.blinn.edu or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.