Hasaan Williams is one of Navarre’s biggest threats out of the backfield, but the senior running back didn’t score a touchdown Friday night.
It didn’t matter.
The Raiders have plenty of options on the offensive side of the ball and that was on full display in their District 2-6A opener against Pace.
Five players scored touchdowns in a 42-27 pounding of the Patriots on a chilly and windy October night at Bennett C. Russell Stadium in Navarre.
“Pace tried to put a lot of players in the box to stop the run, but we did what we had to,” Williams said. “We are not a one-dimensional team.”
No the Raiders are not.
Despite losing star running back Michael Carter a month ago, they have continued to push forward, scoring 40 or more points for the fifth time and improving to 6-0 overall. They came into the game ranked sixth in the state in 6A.
“There is a lot of attention on the running backs, but we can throw the ball, too,” Williams said. “A lot of credit goes to the offensive line. They get better every week.”
Navarre turned the ball over on its first possession when Sage Chambers was picked off on a deep pass down the field. The Raiders cashed in on their next possession when Michael Sandle ran 9 yards for the score and a 7-0 lead.
A high snap by Pace early in the second quarter led to the Raiders being able to start their first drive of the quarter at the 5-yard line. Aaron Mitchell made the Patriots pay for the mistake in one play, busting through the defense for a 5-yard run that extended the Raiders’ lead to 14-0.
Caine Adamson hit Nathan McMaster on a 5-yard scoring strike with 1:36 left in the half to give the Raiders a 21-0 lead at halftime.
Sandle scored on a reverse to extend the lead to 28-0 in the third, running down the left sideline for the touchdown. Chambers hooked up with Octavien Moyer on a 27-yard touchdown pass with less than two minutes left in the third as Navarre went in front 35-7.
Adamson’s 27-yard touchdown run in the fourth capped the scoring for the Raiders.
“We tried to spread the ball around,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “We had trouble with our two-back set but we did some good things running the ball and had a couple of touchdown passes, too.”
The defense was aggressive out of the gate, creating a wall at the line of scrimmage as the Patriots (2-4) rarely picked up big gains on running plays. The tenacious defense also put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, making it difficult for the Patriots to get their passing game on track.
The defense gave up all of its points in the second half, marking the first time since August that it has allowed points in the second half of a game.
“Overall, I thought we played hard,” Walls said. “They got some big scores at the end, but they are a better team than they were last year. The district is still wide open. There is still a lot of football left to play.”
But first one non-district game remains, and that is a Homecoming showdown with Escambia Friday night.
Yes, the Raiders are unbeaten through six games but they are hardly satisfied, especially when the ultimate goal is a state championship.
A year ago, Navarre defeated Escambia 44-30 in the opening round of the playoffs.
“We started 6-0 last year, too,” Williams said. “We let up after that a bit, though. We aren’t going to let that happen again. We are going up against a great Escambia team. We want to make sure we do what we have to in order to win.”