Corsicana — An album of photos from Saturday's NC-Arkansas Baptist game is on the Daily Sun Sports Facebook page.
The chill left by Navarro College’s football prowess was so intense on Saturday that even 100-degree heat could not wilt the snowball that buried Arkansas Baptist 76-26 in the season opener for both teams at Tiger Stadium.
Arkansas Baptist scored on the third play of the game and then recovered a fumble on Navarro’s first play from scrimmage. But the avalanche that quickly ensued had the Buffaloes eager to board their busses for the long trip home to Little Rock.
Ten Navarro players scored in four different ways as the No. 3-ranked Bulldogs roared to a 55-6 halftime lead en route to a school record 76 points, eclipsing the 70 scored against ABC in 2010 and Uvalde in 1951.
“We made some mistakes early and some mistakes late,” said Navarro Coach Brian Mayper. “When we cleaned up those mistakes in between, we were cooking on all cylinders. “
Arkansas Baptist felt the full brunt of Navarro’s offensive and defensive capabilities after jumping to a 6-0 lead. Navarro went on a 55-point scoring barrage as it churned out 586 yards of offense and 848 total yards.
Quarterback Josh Greer made his first start at quarterback, completing and efficient 10 of 14 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. His first score went 27 yards to freshman Austin Collins to give the Bulldogs the lead for good with 9:58 left in the second quarter. Playing just the first half, Greer came back later with a 30-yard scoring strike to frosh Devin Lauderdale that pushed the lead to 49-7 near the end of the half.
Between those scoring tosses, Navarro scored in a variety of ways. Safety Alex Miller, who was beaten by Arkansas Baptist receiver Tyrone Carter (4 catches, 135 yards) for touchdown receptions of 50 and 41 yards, redeemed himself midway in the first half by intercepting ABC quarterback Randall Dixon and weaving his way 64 yards for a touchdown.
The rout was on after Miller’s touchdown return as the Bulldogs focused on their run game. Tim Wright (7 carries, 42 yards) rambled 20 yards for a TD, followed on the ensuring possession by a 44-yard score from Tarlandus Mitchell (4-58).
Cameron Washington and Michael Potts sandwiched scoring runs around Mikechell Potts’ 90-yard punt return for a touchdown, as Navarro posted 28 points in the second quarter.
Washington was the most impressive of the Navarro running backs, gaining a game-high 105 yards on 11 carries. The sophomore from Corsicana said he is becoming more comfortable in the Navarro offense and it certainly showed in Saturday’s stat sheet.
“I’ve never been much of a hog on offense and with this team, we’ve got so many guys who can run the football that the number of carries are spread around,” Washington said. “This year, I feel a lot more comfortable with the offense and I know I need to make the most of every opportunity I’ve got.
“Today, I felt good out there. There were a lot of huge holes created by the offensive line, but I know those holes close quickly, so I’d better get up in there as quickly as possible. The running lanes were there all day.”
Backup quarterback Alex Allen played the entire second half, completing 4 of 9 attempts for 105 yards. Allen also rushed for 42 yards, including a 24-yard scoring run in the third period. Potts (12-56) added his second touchdown of the game in the fourth period with a 2-yarder that offset a pair of lost fumbles. Navarro fumbled six times, losing four.
“Way too many fumbles,” Mayper said. “Too many fumbles and too many penalties. We cannot do that moving forward.”
But Mayper will gladly take the turnovers his defense created. In addition to Miller’s pickoff, cornerback Sherman Gilbert returned an interception 34 yards for a second-half touchdown. Navarro also jumped on a botched kickoff that gave it possession at the ABC 19.
Navarro also accounted for five sacks, two apiece coming from linebacker Dominique Kelly and defensive lineman John Williams. Kelly, a sophomore from Corsicana, also had one stop behind the line of scrimmage as the Bulldog pressure limited Dixon to just 16-of-41 passing.
“We’ve got some freshmen out there who are very hungry,” Kelly said. “They are matching the intensity that the sophomores have so far. It made a difference on the field today and I expect it to make a difference the rest of the year.
“It’s exciting to be a part of (Defensive Coordinator Scott Jospeh’s) defense. We can make things happen. Today, we showed what we can do when we perform.”