The Navarre Raiders created a Thanksgiving miracle Friday in Pensacola.
Senior quarterback Colton Kane passed 31 yards to Brad Leggett with 26 seconds left to rally the Raiders (11-1) to a 20-18 come-from-behind Class 4A regional semifinal win against the Pine Forest Eagles at Lon Wise Stadium.
The pass capped a 90-yard, nine-play drive that took just just more than two minutes.
Pine Forest, which beat Navarre 33-13 on the same field in September, gave up a 12-0 lead before clawing back to an 18-14 advantage midway through the third quarter. That was the score with just more than three minutes left when, on third down at the Raiders' 19-yard-line, Eagles' standout Louchez Purifoy took the snap and weaved through Navarre's defense. The mercurial senior spun away from a defender and seemed to have gained the yardage he needed for a first down that, in all likelihood, would have guaranteed victory for the Eagles. But in the scramble, Purifoy lost the ball and Navarre linebacker Chris Stapleton recovered the fumble...and the Raiders' hopes.
That turnover was preordained, according to Leggett.
"Coach (Chad Lashley) told us something was going to happen in the timeout (immediately prior to the Eagles' third-down play on which Purifoy fumbled)," the senior wide receiver said. "We knew somebody was going to make a play and give us a chance."
Kane -- who threw three interceptions in the game, one of which was returned for Pine Forest's first score -- completed seven of 10 passes on the final drive, including a key nine-yarder to Will Posey on fourth-and-three from the 50.
"We knew this was a dream drive, we knew it would make us or break us if we wanted to keep playing football," Kane said after the game. "We found it within ourselves to make it happen."
Navarre will play Tallahassee Lincoln, a 35-16 winner over Wakulla, in the Class 4A Region 1 final at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3 at Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee.
For more on the Raiders' win at Pine Forest and their game with Lincoln, check the Dec. 2 edition of Navarre Press.