ATHENS — — Navarro showed patience and perseverance Saturday night in a monsoon at Bruce Field, scoring three times in the final 12:47 for a 21-10 stunning defeat of Trinity Valley.
Held to zero yards in the first quarter and faced with miserable field conditions most of the first half, Navarro found itself down 10-0 through three quarters.
But Navarro (4-1 overall, 2-1 in SWJCFC play) embarked on a 16-play, 62-yard drive that culminated in a 2-yard scoring plunge by Traylon Shead to cut the Cardinal deficit to three.
After defensive tackle Antonio Wright recovered a fumble at the Navarro 49, the Bulldogs drove to the go-ahead score, benefitting from two Cardinal personal foul penalties. Quarterback Stump Godfrey, who struggled all night throwing in the driving rain storm, dove over from the 1 for a 14-10 lead at the 6:25 mark.
After holding Trinity Valley (2-4, 0-3) to one of five three-and-outs in the second half, Shead put the game out of reach by dashing through the Cardinal secondary for an 80-yard scoring jaunt.
Shead outgained Trinity Valley’s offense (141 yards, eight first downs) with 185 yards on 21 carries.
Navarro struggled in the first half offensively as the slick conditions and Trinity Valley’s front-loaded defense took away the vaunted stretch and sweep plays that Navarro had used so effectively all season to find the sideline for lengthy runs.
Navarro coach Brian Mayper sat straight-line speedster Tyler Middleton and inserted backups Tim Wright and Tony Drake to run between the tackles. Drake, who started the season at wide receiver, ran for 47 yards on 12 carries and Wright came off the bench to gain 79 yards on 17 totes.
Shead, however, proved to be the finisher. The Cayuga native and University of Texas transfer, had critical runs on Navarro’s first two scoring drives, four times running for first downs on third-and fourth-and-short. Shead also caught a swing pass for 15 yards on a key fourth down in the 16-play scoring series.
Horrible field position haunted Navarro throughout the first half. Trinity Valley started four of its seven series inside Bulldog territory, including a pair inside the Navarro 8. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs started all seven of their drives in their own side of the field. The lone glimmer was at its own 42 thanks to a pop-up kickoff after Trinity Valley’s Saul Martinez booted 29-yard field goal with 4:49 remaining in the first half for a 10-0 Trinity Valley lead.
The stars of the first half resided on the Navarro defensive, particularly tackles Antonio Wright and Terrell Brooks, whose consistent penetration forced the Cardinals out of any rhythm.
That penetration also came at a price. Early in the first quarter, Navarro stopped Trinity Valley on three straight snaps on fourth and goal at the 1 only to be whistled for offsides, effectively giving the Cardinals four straight shots from inside the 1. Finally, quarterback Javia Hall drove over from the 3-inch line to give the Cardinals at 7-0 lead at the 9:31 mark of the first period.
The Bulldogs had a pair of key goal-line stands that denied Trinity Valley points.
Trinity Valley took over at the Navarro 8 following a Davonte McMillian interception of Godfrey early in the second quarter. The Cardinals moved the ball to the 1 on three straight running plays. One fourth down, Hall attempted to sweep left, but defensive end Andre Ross’ penetration pushed Hall out of his anticipated running lane and safety Thomas McDonald dropped him for a 1-yard loss.
Godfrey fumbled the ball away the Navarro 4 two series later, setting up the Cardinals for what should have been an easy score. But a fumble on third down lost five yards and linebacker Stephen Maeweather dropped Thad Stewart for another five-yard loss, forcing Martinez’s field goal.
Trinity Valley was driving against in the final three minutes of the first half, moving from its 32 to the Navarro 29. But Antonio Wright knocked the ball loose from Stewart and Ross recovered, ending what would be the Cardinals’ deepest penetration the remainder of the game.
Navarro allowed Trinity Valley only 1.8 yards on 43 carries and limited Hall to 5 of 16 passing for 60 yards..
Navarro gained 303 yards and over the final three periods and recorded 13 of its 15 first downs in the second half.
Navarro 21, Trinity Valley 10
Navarro 0 0 0 21 — 21
Trinity Valley 7 3 0 0 — 10
T — Javia Hall 1 run (Saul Martinez)
T — Martinez 29 FG
N — Traylon Shead 2 run (Patrick Sohrt kick)
N — Stump Godfrey 1 run (Sohrt kick)
N — Shead 80 run (Sohrt kick)
First Downs 8 15
Rush-yards 43-81 63-270
Passing yards 60 33
C-A-I 5-16-0 3-9-1
Fumbles-lost 7-2 6-4
Punts-avg. 5-46 4-29
Penalties 5-54 9-49
Rushing — N: Traylon Shead 21-185, Stump Godfrey 11-(-39) , Tim Wright 17-79, Tony Drake 12-47 , Tyler Middleton 2-2. T: Thad Stewart 15-68, Rufus Mason 13-49, Javia Hall 7-(-14), Andrew Robinson 4-1, Drew Hellreigel 1-(-9), Buddy Nunn 1-0, Vedial Johnson 1-(-2).
Passing — N: Godfrey 3-9-1-33. T: Hall 5-16-0-60.
Receiving — N: Gerard Shillow 1-14, Tyler Middleton 1-4, Shead 1-15 . T: Henderson 2-33, Cade Carter 1-0, Hellriegel 1-15, Anterric Maxey 1-12.