Just call it a comeback.
Down by 14 at one point in the first half, eighth-ranked Navarre refused to be the victim of an upset, rallying for a 34-21 win over Choctaw Friday night at Joe Etheredge Stadium in Fort Walton.
Moments after the defense stopped the Indians on fourth-and-short near midfield, Michael Carter broke a 21-21 tie with 7:31 to play in the game, bolting through an open hole and running 52 yards for a touchdown that gave Navarre a 28-21 advantage.
Carter went on to score on a 15-yard run with under three minutes left to put an exclamation point on the victory. It was his third TD of the season and his 12th of the year.
“Our defense had been doing a good job all night,” Carter said. “We didn’t feel like we were matching their effort. As an offense, we had to step up as a whole to get the job done.”
The Raiders (3-0), coming off a bye, struggled out of the gate, giving up big plays as they fell behind 14-0. They trailed 21-7 early in the second quarter and went into halftime staring up at a 21-14 deficit.
But rather than panic, the Raiders rose to the occasion, coming at the Indians (0-4) with more pressure as the game wore on. They came up with a big stop on third down on Choctaw’s opening drive of the second half and moments later Dante Wright delivered in a big way, diving for a ball in the end zone to tie the game at 21-21 with 6:13 left in the third.
The 25-yard reception from Caine Adamson was the first TD catch of the year for Wright.
Not only did the Raiders’ offense come to life in the second half but the defense did as well, holding the Indians scoreless in the final two quarters.
“I told the kids the first half never matters. You have to play four quarters,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “I told them to just go out and play and we did that. “I’m proud of their effort.”
Navarre stretches its regular-season win streak to 15 games dating back to 2014. Interestingly enough, the last time it lost in the regular season it was to Choctaw in a 25-15 loss on the road.
Navarre returns to action Friday when it hosts Fort Walton Beach in a 7:30 p.m. game at Bennett C. Russell Stadium.