Tough night for Raiders in Tallahassee

The final score tells the ending of the story but not the whole story.

Navarre had a chance to swing the momentum in its favor in this showdown with Lincoln Thursday night here in Tallahassee. 

Down seven early in the third quarter, the Raiders had forced the Trojans off the field on their opening drive of the half.

Moments later, Marlon Courtney was picked off and the Trojans scored quickly to stretch their lead to 14.

Navarre never recovered and fell 35-20 to Lincoln on a humid September evening at Gene Cox Stadium.

It’s the first loss of the season for the Raiders (3-1) and their first loss in the month of September since 2013, a streak of 23 games.

“We had some momentum defensively, making some plays, and offensively, we did nothing with it. That hurt,” Navarre head coach Jay Walls said. “I thought the kids played hard again. We just made mistakes. I thought that was the difference in the ball game.”

Going back out on the field so quickly on a night when water breaks were a dire necessity and a misting fan blew on the Raider sideline to keep players cool is a challenge for any defense.

Yet, junior defensive linemen Grady Kelly, in on a handful of sacks on that opening drive of the second half for Lincoln, eventually forcing the Trojans into a 4th down and forever situation, said the quick turnaround was no excuse for giving up a crucial touchdown.

The score with under six minutes to play put the Trojans (3-1) in front 28-14.

“Our defense should be expected to get it done,” Kelly said. “It’s hard not getting a break, but that’s something we need to work on. We have to do more conditioning. It should be expected of us to get back out there and stop them.”

Kelly finished the night with eight sacks, ripping the quarterback to the ground time and again.

“I was just provided with opportunities on the field. I saw chances to make plays and made them,” Kelly said.

Navarre could have cut the lead to seven after a big kick return by Gabe Davis. He ran it back to the 28-yard line of Lincoln, bringing the Raiders fans to their feet cheering. 

The next three plays resulted in minimal yards before Courtney tried to run for the first down marker on fourth and 4. He missed it by inches.

The Raiders started off well enough, striking first when Courtney connected with Xayvion Thomas on a 39-yard touchdown throw. He went on to become just the third quarterback in program history to throw for 3,000 yards in a career.

The Raiders and Trojans ended the first tied at 7-7.

Courtney then rushed for a 3-yard touchdown in the second to put the Raiders in front 14-7. Navarre trailed 21-14 at halftime. Jaydin Antonio scored a touchdown in the fourth.

“We started out good and played well in the second half, too. We got momentum but did nothing with it,” Walls said.

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