By Brian Lester
For a moment, it looked as if Navarre’s first shutout of the year was going to have to wait.
Washington marched down the field late in the third quarter and was on the cusp of its first touchdown.
Michael Sandle refused to let it happen. The senior defensive back stepped in front of the pass to Rashaun Roby and batted the ball to the ground in the end zone as the quarter came to a close.
The Raiders were just that tough defensively on this muggy Friday night and went on to wax the Wildcats 42-0 at Sherman L Robinson Stadium in Pensacola.
Sure, preserving the shutout was incentive enough for Sandle to make a big play late. But there was more.
“We don’t have to run sprints after practice (Tuesday),” Sandle said as he walked back to the locker room late Friday night. “I’m excited about it.”
The only blemish on the latest win for the Raiders (3-0) was the injury to star running back Michael Carter in the second quarter. Carter took the ball on a hand-off on second and short and ran towards the left sideline. He was hit low and went to the ground after a pickup of seven yards.
Carter, a heavily recruited junior, tried to get up but immediately went back to the ground and was looked at by the training staff for several minutes before being helped off the field.
Navarre head coach Jay Walls said the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
“He’s going to get an x-ray and hopefully maybe it’s just a bruise,” Walls said. “He got hit on the knee. The doctor doesn’t think it’s a torn ACL or anything like that.”
Carter, who came in with over 400 rushing yards in two games, was on his way to another big night before the injury. After Aaron Mitchell picked off a pass on the Wildcats’ opening drive, the Raiders went to work quickly and led 7-0 after a 12-yard touchdown run by Carter.
The lead was extended to 14-0 after Sage Chambers connected with Carter on a screen pass. Carter shook off a few defenders, made one player miss a tackle near midfield and then bolted 55 yards for the score with 4:47 left in the opening quarter.
Mitchell gave the Raiders a 21-0 lead and Caine Adamson’s first varsity touchdown pass found the hands of Hasaan Williams as Navarre went up 28-0. Adamson threw another scoring strike to Williams just before halftime as the Raiders rolled into the break with a 35-0 lead.
Williams broke through a hole in the defense early in the fourth and sprinted 80 yards untouched for the final touchdown. Once again, Navarre thrived off solid play up front by the offensive line.
“Our running game was really successful and our quarterbacks made some good throws, too,” Walls said. “It was a heck of a game. It was a great win for our guys. I’m proud of them.”
The defense kept the relentless pressure on in the second half, getting to the quarterback often, and rarely allowed big plays. Twice the Wildcats (0-2) nearly scored in the second half.
Both times the Raiders stepped up.
“The defense really played well the whole night,” Walls said. “They gave a great effort from start to finish and gave us great field position.”
Bo Hering helped play a key role in the success of the defense, coming up with two ferocious sacks, and he savored the thrill of helping the Raiders post a shutout.
“It feels great,” Hering said. “It’s one of those things we have worked hard for all season.”
The Raiders are off next week but will play state-ranked Choctaw Sept. 18 in Navarre. The Indians (2-0) were seventh in the latest AP poll. The Raiders could potentially come in ranked in the top 10 as well. They received 15 votes in the poll this week.
“We’ll be ready for them,” Hering said.