KC prevailed over the Northeastern Oklahoma Golden Norsemen, 35-21, Saturday in a must-win match-up.
The game, originally scheduled for 3 p.m. was delayed more than an hour due to thunderstorms.
NEO received the ball first to start the game. On third down, cornerback Michael Mathis intercepted NEO quarterback Anthony Kiefer’s pass and returned it for 22 yards, giving KC some early momentum.
After a KC three-and-out, Kiefer found receiver Austin White for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 8:40 left in the first quarter, putting NEO up 7-0.
KC’s offense would respond as running back Eddie Smith rushed for a 12-yard touchdown as time expired for the first quarter. The score was deadlocked at 7-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Mathis forced a fumble with a hit on NEO’s running back Kendall Holmes. The Rangers recovered the ball on the 34-yard line.
Two possessions later, Mathis intercepted Kiefer’s pass, and he ran it 60 yards in for the touchdown.
KC would take the lead 14-7 with 9:27 left in the first half.
KC’s offense stayed hot as running back Keevon Aldridge punched in a 1-yard touchdown with 5:19 left in the second quarter. KC increased its lead 21-7.
KC’s offense hoped to increase the lead going into halftime, until cornerback Devron Moore intercepted quarterback Averion Hurts’ pass and ran 74 yards for an NEO touchdown with 38 seconds left, trimming the lead to 21-14 going into halftime.
Deep into the third quarter, KC’s offense was on the move. After a couple of smooth runs by Smith, Hurts handed the ball off the receiver Morris Williams on a motion play, who ran 51 yards for a touchdown. KC led NEO 28-14 with 1:19 left in the third quarter.
At the beginning of the final quarter, KC’s offense practically walked down the field as NEO gave up 37 yards worth of penalties on a single play.
Multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties resulted in a NEO player getting ejected.
KC would take this advantage as Aldridge rushed for another 1-yard touchdown with 13:21 left in the game, bumping the lead to 35-14.
NEO would score on its next possession as running back Sheldon Wilson rushed for a touchdown, closing the score to 35-21. KC then would run the clock out to end the game.
Hurts went 13-18 for 127 yards. Mathis led the KC defense with two interceptions, one touchdown, and one forced fumble.
The KC defense forced four turnovers on the game; Mathis was responsible for three of them.
KC next will host its Hall of Fame Game as the Rangers battle the Southeast Prep Spartans in a non-conference match. The game starts at 3 p.m. Saturday at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.