Sage Chambers forgot his jersey for the trip to Milton. What he didn’t forget was how to play quarterback.
Behind a gutsy effort from the offensive line, the senior threw for more than 200 yards and hit Dante Wright on a pair of touchdown passes to catapult the Raiders to a 28-7 District 2-6A win over the Panthers on a muggy Friday night at Hurley Manning Field.
When asked if he was going to stick with the new number (18) and scrap his old one (15), he said he has no plans to.
“That was my fault. I got on the bus and didn’t check my bag,” Chambers said. “I left my jersey in the locker.”
He threw for more than 100 yards for the fifth time in the last six games and the Raiders got back on track after letting a 27-point lead slip away last week in a 35-27 loss to Escambia. Their road streak is now at 15 games and they have outscored Milton 107-7 over the last three seasons.
“We played a good first half last week and didn’t get it done in the second half,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “We talked about playing four quarters and finishing. We did that tonight. I’m proud of our effort.”
Ranked 10th in the state, Navarre (6-1 overall, 2-0 in the district) set the stage for what will be a fight for the district championship in two weeks against county rival Gulf Breeze. The Dolphins edged Pace 44-40 on Friday.
The offensive line played a crucial role in the victory, allowing Chambers time to throw and paving the way for Josh Carter’s touchdown run that put Navarre on top 7-0 with 9:07 left in the first half.
The key to the line’s success?
“Communication. Hands down communication,” senior lineman Aaron Smith said. “They were throwing some different defenses at us and we were talking to each other about it and got a handle on it.”
Milton (2-5, 0-2) tied the game at 7-7 but Dante Wright gave the Raiders the lead for good when he snagged a pass from Chambers and sprinted down the left sideline to the end zone. It was a three-score night for Wright, who ran for a touchdown in the early in the third and caught a scoring strike late in the fourth.
The defense deserves credit, too. Disappointed by last week’s performance, the Raiders got back to being relentless and making plays when it mattered most, keeping the Panthers off the scoreboard in the second half.
Matthew Downey’s interception during a Milton drive late in the first half seemed to swing the momentum in Navarre’s favor for good.
“It was a big play, a really big play,” Walls said. “They had great field position and were trying to get a score. Taking that momentum away was big.”
Speaking of big, the Beach Bowl between the Raiders and Dolphins is next. Both teams have a bye next week and then play Oct. 27 in Gulf Breeze.
As if the rivalry aspect of the game isn’t enough, an automatic berth to the postseason will be riding on it as well thanks to the new playoff format that takes four district champs and four at-large teams out of each region.
“It’s already a big game,” Walls said. “Now we just threw gasoline, gunpowder and everything on it.”