Navarre needed a stop deep in its own territory and an 89-yard scoring drive in the game’s final minutes to eke out a critical 13-8 District 2-6A win Friday against the Crestview Bulldogs. Photos HERE.
The Raiders won their fifth straight game and improved to 6-1 overall. More importantly, Navarre stayed undefeated in district play (3-0) and gained sole possession of first place in the district standings because Niceville walloped Fort Walton Beach on Friday, 34-3. The loss dropped the Vikings to 5-2 overall, 2-1 in District 2-6A, and out of a first-place tie with Navarre.
The Raiders host Fort Walton Beach on Friday at Bennett C. Russell Stadium.
The Raiders’ defense kept Crestview (3-5, 1-2 in district play) out of the end zone, but a punt snap slid through Jordan Leggett’s hands and through the back of the Navarre end zone for a safety with 7 minutes and 10 seconds left to give the Bulldogs an 8-7 lead.
Crestview drove the ensuing free kick to the Raiders’ 14-yard line and appeared to pad the lead when senior quarterback Dakota Davis sprinted into the end zone on fourth-down. But a holding call against a Bulldog receiver at the 1 nullified the run and set up fourth-and-3 at the Navarre 11 with 3:06 left on the clock.
After a Crestview timeout, the Bulldogs handed the ball to senior running back Micah Reed, who has committed verbally to play for the University of Central Florida. Reed rushed for more than 160 yards in the game, but Navarre’s defense stopped the 5-foot-11, 182-pound workhorse for no gain and the Raiders took over at their own 11-yard line.
The winning drive started inauspiciously when the ’Dogs sacked Navarre quarterback Andrew Rieves at the 3 and Navarre’s star running back/defensive back/kick returner Nick Benton left the field with leg cramps. The next play, a screen pass from Rieves to ailing running back Jay Warren, lost a yard to the Raiders’ 2.
With about two minutes left to play, Navarre trailed by a point with a struggling offense 98 yards from the Crestview end zone. No problem.
On third-and-19, Rieves threw a jump ball to the 6-foot-6 Leggett, who leaped over two defenders to pull in the catch at the 33. Rieves connected with Gatlin Casey for 23 yards and Leggett for gains of 20 and 18 yards on consecutive plays, giving Navarre a first down at the Crestview 18.
A handoff to Warren lost two yards and the Raiders called timeout with 55 seconds to play.
On second-and-12, Rieves completed his sixth-straight pass of the drive, a 20-yard touchdown to Casey running wide open down the middle of the field. A two-point pass attempt failed, but with 50.4 seconds showing on the clock, Navarre led 13.8.
Johnny Robinson-Pettus picked off Davis’ desperation heave on the game’s final play to seal the win.
A muffed punt and interception on Navarre’s first two opportunities on offense gave Crestview good field position in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs had to settle for a 28-yard Austin Smith field goal and a 3-0 lead.
The Raiders managed a seven-play, 57-yard drive capped by a catch and balletic scoring run around a pair of defenders and down the sideline by Casey with 10:38 left in the first half. Chandler Moorer’s point-after kick gave Navarre a 7-3 lead.
Crestview reclaimed the lead with a 25-yard Smith field goal with 5:47 left in the third quarter.