In an all-around team effort, the fourth-ranked Cardinals notched a 12th straight victory Saturday night at Bruce Field, scoring a 27-14 decision over 11th-ranked Northeastern Oklahoma.
The win improved the Cardinals to 3-0 on the season and 2-0 in their quest for an unprecedented fifth straight Southwest Junior College Football Conference regular season championship. NEO dropped to 1-1.
The Cardinals are scheduled to return to action Saturday in Brenham against 2-0 Blinn. The Buccaneers were a 27-12 winner at home Saturday against Navarro. Game time is 7 p.m.
After spotting the Golden Norsemen at touchdown on their opening drive, the Cardinal defense forced back-to-back NEO punts, the second of which Tony Mullins took to the house from 53 yards out. With Angel Sevier's PAT, the Cardinals had the score tied at 7-7 with 1:45 left in the opening quarter.
Early in the second quarter, Sevier drilled a 48-yard field goal with room to spare to put the Cardinals into a 10-7 advantage.
NEO struck for a touchdown on its next possession to move into a 14-10 lead with 11:07 remaining in the half.
The Cardinals answered with an 11-play, 66-yard drive. Khalil Banks capped the scoring march with a 12-yard run. Sevier's PAT gave the Cardinals a 17-14 lead they would carry into the fourth quarter.
The Cardinal defense shut down NEO on its next five possessions after the Banks touchdown, forcing four punts and getting the ball back on downs once. But the biggest defensive play would follow on NEO's next possession, when Michael Scott forced a fumble that was recovered by D.J. Pinkard on the Cardinal 37.
The Cardinals converted the turnover into points with a nine-play drive. Jaylon Henderson passed 13 yards to Banks for the score to put the Cardinals up 24-14 with 13:16 left in the game.
With the Cardinal defense in complete control, a 42-yard Sevier field goal with 6:13 to go sealed the win.
The Cardinals rushed for 250 yards, led by Peytton Pickett and Henderson with 76 yards each. Banks finished with 44 and Jeremy Lewis 30.
The Cardinals were turnover-free and the offensive line did not allow a sack.