TJC vs. NEO: Thursday's juco standouts

TYLER, Texas – Thursday night’s clash between Tyler Junior College and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium was one giant game of “Can you top this?”

If TJC did something, NEO had to do something better. Then TJC. Then NEO. And ultimately, TJC had the last word in a 65-59, double-overtime thriller against an NEO team ranked No. 9 in the latest NJCAA poll. Running back Ryan Young scored on a 25-yard run -- on a third-and-10 play -- to end the game.

The Apaches (3-2, 1-1) forced overtime with a 52-yard, Hail Mary pass from Tyrik Rollison to JaVante Mack with no time on the clock in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 52. The TJC win additionally gave NEO (4-1, 1-1) its first loss of the year.

Here are 10 players from Thursday – five from TJC, five from NEO – who were impact players:


QB Tyrik Rollison: There’s a reason why Auburn wanted Rollison so badly out of high school. He threw for 503 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in the win and played with lots of poise and tons of confidence.

WR Jeremey Chappelle: At 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, Chappelle is a super-physical receiver with great hands. He caught 10 balls for 140 yards and two touchdowns. His bruising run style after the catch makes him intriguing.

WR Tracy Smith: Smith quietly caught eight passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns on Thursday. What stood out about Smith was whenever the Apaches needed a big play, he made it happen.

LB Chris Loop: Loop looks like the prototypical middle linebacker. He’s 6-3 and 237 pounds, and he plays with a mean streak. Loop was the keystone of TJC’s defense, and when it counted most, he was there to make plays.

OC Derek Hoffpauir: The TJC skill-position players get most of the credit for the win, but Hoffpauir was one of the reasons why Rollison threw five touchdowns and no interceptions. Hoffpauir plays larger than his 6-foot, 266-pound frame.


WR Michael Thompson: Thompson arguably was NEO’s most talked-about player on Thursday. Not only did he catch a 21-yard touchdown pass, but he also showed dangerous speed with two 95-yard kickoff returns for scores.

DE Jaiari Dunaway: At 6-2 and 230 pounds, Dunaway can line up at either defensive end or outside linebacker. He gave TJC fits at both spots, serving as the leader in cutting some TJC drives short.

QB Clayton Mitchem: Mitchem showed he was a gamer, throwing for 317 yards and five touchdowns in a loss. His numbers could have been even more elevated had Thompson not ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns.

WR Kameron Doolittle: Doolittle and Mitchem were on the same page all night, and Doolittle finished the game with four touchdown receptions. He caught touchdown passes of 27, 11, 12 and 15 yards.

DT Deonte Cruse: NEO was worried about Young and the rest of the TJC ground game, but Cruse did his part to keep the Apaches’ runners at bay. Cruse used his 6-2, 295-pound frame to clog holes, primarily in the second half.