Raiders make statement with win over Indians

Brady Hammel stood on the field ready to kick a field goal with 1:29 to play Friday night; revenge, victory and a chance to make a statement all on the line for the Navarre Raiders.

This wasn’t just another game.

This was a showdown against Choctaw, a team that has owned Navarre, beating the Raiders three consecutive times, including twice in the playoffs.

That in itself is enough pressure to place on a kicker.

But there was more.

Hammel missed an extra point after Tommy Leggett’s touchdown catch eight minutes earlier, leaving the Raiders trailing the Indians by a point, 14-13, in this wild battle between state-ranked teams.

“I had to brush off (the miss),” Hammel said. “It frustrated me but my teammates stayed with me. They gave me everything I needed to give us a victory.”

Indeed. Rather than cave under the weight of it all, the senior was money in the moment, drilling a 27-yard field goal, nudging the eighth-ranked Raiders in front for good as the fans roared and music blared inside Bennett C. Russell Stadium.

Michael Sandle picked off a pass on Choctaw’s next possession, and after Navarre turned the ball over on downs with five seconds left, the Raiders made one last defensive stand to secure the 16-14 win.

The field goal was Hammel’s first game-winner.

Read the full story in the Sept. 24 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.

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