NMMI Sports Press
NAVARRO, Texas — An improbable comeback bid by the New Mexico Military Institute Bronco football team (3-4, 1-4) fell just short Saturday, with Navarro College earning a win in overtime, 56-49.
A Bulldog touchdown late in the fourth quarter put Navarro ahead 49-35 with less than three minutes remaining.
But the NMMI offense that could, did. Sophomore quarterback Cody Frampton, who earned NJCAA Player of the Week honors for his six TD performance (three rushing, three passing) against Cisco College last week, led the Bronco to two quick scores, forcing play into overtime.
The first score came with 1:56 left on the clock. A pair of Frampton scrambles moved the ball down to the Navarro 32, before Frampton hit WR Quantavius Moore for the touchdown.
After a failed onside kick, the Bronco defense made a crucial stop, getting the ball back to the offense at the NMMI 22 with 33 ticks left to play.
Five Frampton passes later, helped by a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Navarro, and NMMI had the ball first and goal from the Bulldogs 5 with seven seconds remaining. After a failed pass attempt and 5-yard false start penalty, Frampton's pass to Clarence Williams in the corner of the end zone was good to push the game into extended play, 49-49.
Navarro scored a touchdown on their opening play in OT (alternate possessions from their opponent's 25-yard line) while NMMI's counter was halted on a controversial interception call on a pass to Kaleo Piceno in the back corner of the end zone on a fourth and goal from the 9-yard line. Piceno appeared to have made the catch, but the Navarro defender ended up with the ball after both fell down and rolled over each other.
"I'm happy with our heart and with our effort," said head coach Joe Forchtner after the game. "It's hard to talk about (this game) because our effort, at the end especially, was incredible. We had no business being able to comeback like that against a team like that. You look at those (Navarro) guys – they're huge, HUGE and they're fast and athletic."
Forchtner wasn't as pleased with a few of the calls that didn't go the Broncos' way, but said that it was other mistakes that hurt the most.
"Twice we ripped the ball out (for a fumble) on defense. One of those would have been a touchdown for sure. I disagree with that one — can't wait to see the film on it. The call at the end — simultaneous catch — it's tough when a game ends on a 50-50 call like that. But we put ourselves in a position where I don't think we probably should have been: we didn't play very well on defense except for in spots; we turned the ball over a couple of times in the first half and gave them really short fields. And in games like this, it's the early mistakes that bite you."
Frampton passed for 319 yards and five TDs in the loss, rushed for another TD and 92 more yards, but also had three INTs.
Moore hauled in two of those TD passes, four catches total for 96 yards, to lead the Bronco reception crew. Tyreik Campbell also had four catches for 76 yards; Piceno four grabs for 61 yards and a TD; Kendarius Moore three catches for 47 yards and a TD; Clarence Williams three receptions for 26 yards and a TD. Fred Jackson had the remaining catch for 13 yards and also had six rushing attempts for 26 yards.
"I think the offense has kind of found their identity over the last couple of weeks," said coach Forchtner. "Sometimes that's hard in junior college, because you've got a whole new cast and you're re-asking the question "What are we really good at?" It's just a constant learning experience, for both the players and coaches, to try and figure out what your identity is when probably 70 percent of your team is new.
"We kind of thought after playing Trinity Valley, where we threw four or five picks, that we're not going to throw the ball," continued Forchtner about the offense. "Then we go to Kilgore and we're really heavy on the run, and we probably didn't throw the ball enough; maybe a bit too conservative, trying not to turn the ball over — but were we really trying to score?
"So it's been a process of continual evolution. Now Cody can run it and a quarterback run-threat adds a whole extra dimension that you have to account for. With that in the game, we can do a whole lot of stuff off of play action, and that's where a lot of our (offensive yardage) has come from.
"You can kind of see how the passing game has improved from that last drive. We had less than 40 seconds and no time outs. And, they knew that we were going to throw. That was a perfect drive. We run that situation every week; offensive coordinator Drew (Thatcher) knows how to call it, the kids know how to run it, and it was good to see it all pay off."
On defense, DB Enoch Makonzo was the top tackler with 12, five solo and seven assists, including a pair of TFLs totaling nine yards. Two Broncos had eight tackles: DB Joshua Kelly (two solo, six assists) and DE Steel Willis (five solo, three assists). Two players recorded sacks, one each for DL Siliato Tuia (11 yards) and Ben Aumavae (4 yards).
"I'm super proud of the guys," finished Forchtner. "We've got stuff to clean up but we're just going to keep working and trying to get better. We're not going to hang our heads about it or feel sorry for ourselves. We're just going to go back to work and get ready for NEO next week."
That game on Oct. 20 at 2 p.m, vs. Golden Norsemen will finish off a number of athletic events scheduled for NMMI's Homecoming Week, which runs from Oct. 15-22.