No. 4 Buccaneers named co-champs despite loss to No. 14 NEO, 35-26

BRENHAM, Texas – The No. 4 Blinn College Buccaneers fell to the No. 14 Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College Norsemen, 35-26, in the final game of the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Cub Stadium in Brenham.

The Buccaneers concluded the regular season with a 6-2 overall record and a 5-2 conference record, and were named Southwest Junior College Football Conference co-champions, alongside Northeastern Oklahoma A&M and Trinity Valley.

"It was a lot of ups and downs, but I was really proud of how all our kids responded," said Ryan Mahon, Blinn head coach. "Northeastern Oklahoma A&M is a good football team and we knew that going in, but we are also a good football team and we didn't back down."

Quarterback Devin Williams led the offense with 164 passing yards in 15 completions, and 68 rushing yards for one touchdown. Tail back Carlos Grace followed with 136 rushing yards for two touchdowns, while wide receiver Dandre Reed posted 106 yards.

The Buccaneers and Norsemen played a close first half as both defenses didn't allow more than one touchdown to score per quarter. The Norsemen led 14-7 heading into the second half following an 11-yard passing touchdown with one minute remaining in the first quarter, and a two-yard rushing touchdown with 20.2 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Buccaneers scored their first touchdown with 3:35 remaining in the second quarter following a sack by Keith Watson that returned the ball to the Buccaneers. Blinn evened the score 7-7 as Williams trotted the ball in from the three-yard-line.

Blinn's defense came up with two turnovers in the third quarter as the Buccaneers looked to take control of the game. Vonte Davis was involved with both turnovers, recovering a fumble during the Norsemen's first possession in the half, and forcing a fumble for Isaiah Moore to recover during the Norsemen's next possession.

With 2:49 remaining in the third quarter, the Buccaneers scored after Grace rushed the ball for 25 yards into the red zone, and then scored on a two-yard scamper as Blinn trailed, 14-13. The Norsemen quickly answered back with 31.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter to take a 21-13 lead after a 23-yard rushing touchdown. They kept the surge of momentum rolling into the final quarter, extending their lead to 28-13 following a 12-yard pass with 12:48 left in the game.

The Buccaneers moved quickly to rally as Williams sent a nine-yard pass to Sicory Smith in the end zone with 10:50 left to narrow in on Northeastern Oklahoma, 28-20. However, the Norsemen continued to deliver the blows as they answered back in two plays with a 26-yard touchdown pass to extend their lead to 35-20 with 9:17 left. Blinn never gave up as they scored once again on a three-yard rushing touchdown by Grace, for his second of the game, with 6:32 left. However, Northeastern kept Blinn off the board for the remainder of the game as the Buccaneers fell, 35-26.

The Buccaneers will have another shot at Northeastern Oklahoma in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference semi-final on Saturday, Nov. 4 in Miami, Oklahoma.

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 36 NJCAA national championships since 1987.