Everyone knows Michael Carter can run with the football. It’s why the speedy Navarre running back is headed to North Carolina next fall to play for the Tar Heels.
But considering what the senior did Friday night against Pace, he’s not bad at throwing the football either.
Carter triggered a momentum-swinging play with under a minute to play in the opening half, connecting with Jordan Williams on a 63-yard scoring strike that gave the Raiders the lead back for good and propelled them to a 42-28 win in the District 2-6A opener for both teams.
Carter’s touchdown pass pushed Navarre in front 21-14 and put a dent into the Patriots’ hopes for an upset over the seventh-ranked team in the state.
But for the record, any thoughts of Carter changing his mind on what position he will play at the next level won’t be swayed by a highlight reel-worthy throw
“I’d probably have to grow a few more inches before I would reconsider (my position),” Carter said with a laugh.
Then again, the fact that Carter can throw a football isn’t exactly earth-shattering news.
“I used to play baseball, so I’ve always been able to throw,” Carter said. “It was nothing special. And when you have a target like Jordan, you don’t have to throw it very well. He can catch it.”
Williams made a brilliant move to get away from his receiver as the ball sailed through the air and was confident it would land in his hands. He kept his balance after the catch and raced into the end zone for his first TD of the year with 38 seconds remaining in the half.
“I actually did think I was going to catch it,” Williams said. “I knew as soon as the defender broke down, (Michael) was going to throw it and I knew I was going to score.”
It wasn’t the last time Williams scored. He also caught a 53-yard TD pass from running back/wide receiver Dante Williams late in the fourth quarter.
Not bad for someone who had never played football. The senior focused on only basketball prior to this season.
“It felt good to get a couple of touchdowns,” Williams said. “We work on that play all of the time. We got it to work for us tonight.”
Navarre went into this game against Pace knowing nothing would come easy. The Raiders (5-0) and Patriots (3-3) traded punches early and found themselves tied at 14-14 with 1:17 to go in the half.
Thankfully, the Raiders have a versatile offense and the trick plays worked to perfection for the reigning district champions.
“We knew we would have to have a wide-open attack,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “We had to resort to trick plays. It shows how good of a team Pace is and how competitive the district is.”
It’s now Navarre’s district title to lose after it conquered Pace and extended its regular-season win streak to 17 games.
Caine Adamson threw a TD pass to Chandler Cooper for a 7-0 lead and Adamson’s 43-yard run put Navarre on top 14-7. Adamson also found the end zone on a 26-yard run.
Carter not only showed off his throwing ability but he shook off a tough start to his night by spinning off defenders and cutting to the outside for a 54-yard TD run in the third that gave Navarre a 28-14 lead.
The Raiders still have three district games to go and understand each one will present challenges. For now, they will savor the thrill of starting the road to a title off on the right foot.
“It’s big. We’re 1-0 in the district,” Carter said. “We want to repeat as district champions. Our goal tonight was to go 1-0. We accomplished that.”