Nick Benton’s last-minute interception saved Navarre’s 19-13 upset win Friday at Pace and, just maybe, its season.
“Coming up with a win was big,” Navarre coach Jay Walls said after the Raiders beat Pace, which is ranked 10th in the latest AP Florida High School Class 6A Football Poll, for just the second time ever. “I’m really proud of our kids. They got a little redemption for what happened last week.”
On Sept. 7, the Raiders dominated Pensacola and led 24-12 midway through the fourth quarter before the Tigers rallied for a 25-24 win. Four turnovers and almost 200 yards in penalties crippled Navarre in that loss.
The Raiders (2-1) played comparatively error-free football Friday and never trailed. The Raiders’ kicked off to start the game, but surprised the Patriots when Chandler Moorer lifted a short “sky ball” that Benton recovered at the Patriots’ 37-yard line. Four plays later, Andrew Rieves threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leggett. Moorer’s kick missed, but Navarre led 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
Pace answered with a seven-play, 65-yard drive that ended when Patriots quarterback Brice Moore fumbled the ball into the end zone and Navarre recovered.
Ryan Santoso kicked field goals of 33 and 36 yards in the second quarter and the teams went to the locker room tied 6-6.
Rieves scored on an 8-yard quarterback keeper and Moorer’s kick gave Navarre a 13-6 lead with 3:24 left to play in the third quarter, but Patriot sophomore Quaide Weimerskirche capped the ensuing Pace drive with a 51-yard touchdown run. Santoso tied the game at 13 with less than a minute left in the quarter.
Marcus Mayes took a short screen pass from Rieves 35 yards for the key play of the next Raiders’ possession. Slot back Gatlin Casey ended the 11-play, 80-yard drive with an 8-yard scoring run for the game’s final points.
Pace marched to the Raiders’ 10 before Benton stepped in front of Moore’s pass at the goal line and returned the ball to midfield. Rieves took a knee to end the game.
The Raiders’ string of road games continues next week with Navarre’s District 2-6A opener at Niceville.