Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


December 7, 2013

Brazos Valley Bowl: Wright, Navarro storm back to beat Hinds 34-27

BRYAN —     The words wouldn’t come.

    They were frozen in the air -- like this game itself -- iced over and locked in a frigid deep freeze.

    Then, like Tim Wright, and just like Navarro’s Bulldogs (you know, those lightning quick, never quit Bulldogs), the words started coming, and they came in waves, flowing fast and rich and -- just like Wright and Navarro -- the words wouldn’t stop.

    They flowed like the Brazos.

    “He’s amazing, fantastic, outstanding,’’ said Navarro defensive back Aaron Shaw. “He’s a horse, a horse. He will show them at the next level. You can’t hold a horse down.’’

    “He’s unbelievable, a great running back,’’ said Navarro linebacker Kyron Minter, jumping in and finishing a sentence that Shaw had started. “I’m at a loss for words to describe him. There are no words.”

    “There’s nobody like him,’’ said offensive lineman Carter Wall, who had a monster day. “He’s a freak of nature, a freak of nature!’’

    They were talking about Wright, Navarro’s take-your-breath-away running back who ran for 249 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner with 10 seconds left. But they could have been talking about the Navarro team that pulled off its biggest comeback of the season Saturday, storming back to beat Hinds (Miss.) 34-27 to win the Brazos Valley Bowl on a brutally cold day at Merrell Green Stadium, where it was so miserable that neither team’s band or cheerleaders showed up for the game.

    The field was empty at halftime, and all you could see was your breath.

    But somehow, Navarro saw a lot more and saw a way to come back after falling behind 27-13 late  in the third quarter.

    Navarro was down 13-10 at halftime and watch QB James Summers, who rushed for 118 yards in the first half and finished 137, lead Hines to a pair of third quarter TDs.

    It looked like it was over for the Bulldogs (9-3) when Summers, whose name smacked with irony on the winter day and tundra-like temperatures, connected with Keithon Redding for a 56-yard TD to lift Hinds to a 14-point lead with 6:43 left in the third.

    Then came the speech, the leaping and the comeback -- and more leaping -- in that order.

    “We were losing (27-13) and Coach (Brian) Mayper came up to us in the third quarter and got us going,” said Navarro QB Josh Greer, who missed most of the season with a broken collarbone, but returned in time for the season finale. “He told us to get up! He said, ‘Look at their sideline. They’ve got all the energy.’ ”

    Wright felt the same way. He just didn’t say anything.

    “We weren’t doing anything in the first half,’’ but I didn’t say anything. I kept it to myself,’’ said Wright, who rushed for 80 yards on 14 carries in the first half and scored on a 19-yard run to give Navarro a brief 10-7 lead with 7:55 left in the half. “We weren’t playing our game. Everyone was worried about the cold and thinking about the cold. Everyone was focused on getting a jacket.’’

    Navarro was down 13-10 at halftime and watch QB James Summers, who rushed for 118 yards in the first half and finished 137, lead Hines to a pair of third quarter TDs.

    Then they focused on the comeback.

    “I just told them to look at the other sideline and look at their players. They were jumping up and down and we weren’t doing anything,’’ Mayper said. “We got on our feet and we started having some energy and we started making some plays and not worrying about the cold.’’

    Shaw made an impact hit on a punt that seemed to jar Navarro even more than the Hinds’ punt returner and the Bulldogs turned the game around on both sides of the ball. They flew down the field to start the comeback, scoring on twice as Greer, who completed 17 of 26 passes for 179 yards, started the comeback with two completions and a scramble that gained an extra 15 yards after Hinds was hit with a personal foul that moved the ball to the Hinds’ 35.

    Wright busted free for a 33-yard sprint to the 2, and scored on the next play to complete a 70-yard, five-play drive that took only 1:19 off the clock. Navarro closed the gap to 27-20 when Carlos Macias, who hit two frozen field goals of 19 and 37 yards earlier, added a PAT.

    Navarro struck quickly again, and after a three-and-out-do-nothing drive by Hinds, the Bulldogs drove 56 yards in seven plays. Greer opened this drive with a 32-yard strike to Austin Collins then after a 5-yard run by Cameron Washington, Wright took over and ran four times to cover the final 18 yards, scoring on a 7-yard TD run with 1:15 left in the third. The score was knotted at 27-27, but the momentum -- and game -- belonged to Navarro.

    Navarro’s defense, which allowed only 24 yards and two first downs over the final 21 minutes and 43 seconds of the game (after the 27-13 lead), slammed the door and took over with 23 seconds left in the third and drove from its 42 to the 1-yard-line, where Wright finally did something wrong -- he lost a fumble.

    “No, I wasn’t mad or angry. I knew we would get it back,’’ Wright said later of the fumble. “It really was a touchdown. But I wasn’t mad. I knew I had to just keep doing what I was doing. We knew we were going to win. We knew it was going to happen.’’

    Wall was even more definitive about the comeback.

    “We knew we were going to win. When we were down (27-13) there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we were going to win the game,’’ said Wall, who demolished defenders in the second half. “There wasn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind. No one on the team. We work harder than anybody, and nobody’s got anything on Texas football.’’

    Wall was there in the end, leading the blocking on Wright’s final TD of the day, a 10-yard run over the left side that came with 10 seconds left. Wall was there with one big block after another for the entire winning drive that started after Mikechell Potts returned a punt 26 yards to the Hinds’ 48 and included two memorable plays before the TD.

    The first came on a brilliant run by Wright, which is all but a redundant term because he dazzles on so many plays, but on third-and-five, he broke loose from the 42, slid through an opening on the left side behind Carter  (where else?) and then tip-toed down the sideline the final six yards of a 12-yard gain to the 30.

    But it was there -- at the 30 -- where Greer and Navarro made one of the biggest plays of the game. Facing a fourth-and-10, Greer, who was sacked four times, held his ground, and threw a bullet to Alex Allen, who made the catch at the 16 to keep the drive alive. Wright gained six to the 10 and with time running down to next to nothing, he took the ball with 16 seconds left, slid into a hole on the left, cut back and then went diving into the end zone.

    “I knew it was there,’’ Wright said of the winning TD. “I like that play (a sweep to the left). I knew it was going to be there when I got the ball. I love running behind Big Carter.’’

    And they love Wright, a sophomore who doesn’t know where he will play next season.

    “I want to play (Division I). Somebody’s going to get a good back,” Wright said.

    Make that a great one.

    “He’s phenomenal,’’ Mayper said. “He’s the best running back I’ve ever seen. He will run over their stud, and he will make linebackers miss. He’s the best.’’

    Mayper feels the same way about his team.

    “This team was a special team,’’ he said after the win. ‘‘I think it’s the best in the country. When we are playing right there’s not a better team in the country.’’

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