By Brian Lester
Michael Carter struck like lightning Friday night, providing a quick bolt of energy that served as the catalyst for the Navarre Raiders’ convincing 57-14 win over Pensacola Catholic.
His touchdown run of 39 yards on the Raiders’ first play from scrimmage, the run where he used a burst of remarkable speed in the open field that left the Crusaders grasping at air and gasping for it as well, set the stage for a special night.
Carter, a junior already with offers from three Southeastern Conference Schools, would go on to score three more touchdowns and rush for over 200 yards for the second consecutive week as he pushed the Raiders to a 2-0 start in front of an electric crowd on a muggy night at Bennett C Russell Stadium.
“One of the teachers was walking down the track and I told him I was going to meet him in the end zone,” Carter said. I figured I might as well do it.”
The student section went nuts, shooting off confetti guns and throwing baby powder into the air before breaking into chants of “Michael Carter and Go Home Catholic.”
Carter rushed for 234 yards and already has seven touchdowns in two weeks. But he couldn’t have done it without the offensive line rising to the occasion, opening holes time and again for him to run through.
“I want to give a shout out to my O-Line. I love them so much,” Carter said. “Our receivers block well in open space, our tight ends block well in open space. They make my job relatively easy.”
Navarre also got a huge lift from quarterback Sage Chambers, who threw his first varsity touchdown pass on a 26-yard scoring strike to Octavien Moyer. Moyer outjumped a defender for the ball to make the grab in the end zone. Chambers found Michael Sandle in stride on the next drive, connecting for a 24-yard scoring pass.
Carter also scored on runs of 70 yards, 29 yards and 25 yards while Hasaan Williams punched the ball into the end zone twice as the Raiders’ offense made few mistakes while unleashing a balanced attack that the Crusaders (0-1) had no answer for. Navarre has scored 100 points in two games.
“Our win last week (over Dothan) gave was something to build on,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “Our kids have worked so hard. I’m excited for them. Hopefully we can stay healthy and keep it going.”
As good as the offense was, the defense was just as solid.
The Raiders were relentless, consistently hitting hard and knocking pass attempts to the ground. Sandle picked off a pass while Aaron Mitchell recovered a fumble and Xavier Fernandez came through with a safety on a punt attempt.
Catholic trailed 23-0 before it finally scored and went into halftime down 36-7.
“Our defense did a really good job. Catholic has a very good offense,” Walls said. “We played well. To hold that team to 14 points is a great job by the defense.”
But the Raiders aren’t satisfied despite how well they have played in the first two weeks. This is a team that has visions of a state championship, a goal of being the best team in school history.
Staying on that course means playing exactly the way it did against Catholic.
“We went out there and played harder than them,” Carter said. “We had more heart. It doesn’t matter who we play. We want to win and continue to get better every week.”