Sometimes it’s easy to let adversity force you into a moment where you just want so slam the palm of your hand down on the panic button.
Sophomore defensive lineman Josh Carter refused to do it. He wasn’t worried.
His Navarre teammates weren’t either.
Logic said they should have been. The eighth-ranked Raiders trailed Escambia 13-0 on the road less than six minutes into the opening quarter of a non-district showdown Friday night at Emmitt Smith Field.
“You just have to play the next play. That’s all we can say, that’s all coach asks from us,” Carter said. “We have to play the next play and not worry about the last one.”
So the Raiders did. For the next 40-plus minutes of an intense battle with the Gators, the Raiders kept scraping, kept clawing and kept fighting, and in the end, that was enough to produce a hard-fought 17-13 win.
“(Escambia) came out and got the momentum right off the bat, but our team battled back,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “We hung in there defensively and scored some points when we could. We did a great job. It was a great effort.”
Navarre was looking up at a 13-0 deficit with 6:50 to go in the first, the Gators scoring at will and the Raiders failing to respond.
How bad did it look early? Well, the first play from scrimmage for the Raiders ended with Caine Adamson throwing an interception. Navarre went three-and-out on its next possession.
At halftime, Navarre trailed 13-3, its only points coming on a field goal by Dante Wright.
But to worry about the deficit was crazy. The Raiders knew they still had time to make more plays.
“Anytime we play these guys, it’s a four-quarter fight, maybe five,” senior running back Michael Carter said. “We were extremely focused at halftime. We had a game plan going into the second half. It was just a matter of who wanted it more.”
Ultimately, the Raiders wanted it more. They always seem to. It’s why they are undefeated through six games and it’s why their regular-season win streak now stands at 18.
Adamson made up for the early pick by marching the Raiders down the field on the first possession of the second half and scoring on a 6-yard run up the middle, slicing the Gators’ advantage to 13-10.
Michael Carter then finished off the comeback, punching the ball into the end zone on a 2-yard run in the fourth, his 17th rushing TD of the season. The Raiders led 17-13. The student section tossed confetti into the air to celebrate the lead.
Navarre’s defense finished the job, capping a gutsy, lay-it-all-on-the-line performance when Josh Carter shot through the offensive line and hammered Z’Khari Blocker for a sack as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
“That was awesome,” Josh Carter said of the sack. “I loved it.”