As defenses of No. 1 rankings go, the result was about as bad as anyone could have imagined.
Too many penalties.
Too many turnovers.
Two too many touchdowns called back because of penalties.
Too little offensive production.
In essence, Navarro’s 35-7 loss to Trinity Valley at Tiger Stadium was about as sloppy and soaked as the devoted stands in the stands Saturday night.
Navarro entered the game brandishing the No. 1 ranking after rolling through its first four opponents. It left concerned about a suddenly sluggish offense and scrambling to ready itself for a surging 5-0 Tyler club next week on the road.
The loss also snapped a 29-game regular season home winning streak that started in 2006. It also stopped a skein of 23 straight home conference game victories.
Perhaps it was the rainy night that pushed back the start of the game by 30 minutes. Or maybe it was missing starting quarterback Josh Greer, who injured his collarbone last week at the end of a win over Kilgore and who’ll miss an undetermined amount of time.
Regardless the reason, the result was ugly.
“It was a poor, poor, poor performance,” said Navarro Coach Brian Mayper. “We didn’t have focus and we didn’t have execution. It was just really poor performance.
“I’m extremely disappointed with our effort and how we played. Other than the punter, just about no one played well.”
Navarro trailed only 7-0 at the half and even tied the game on Tim Wright’s 16-yard run on the first series of the third period.
But matters unraveled quickly after that as the Cardinals, limited to less than 115 yards in the opening 20 minutes, went on a 28-point scoring spree to end the game. They scored on long drives, drives extended by a plethora of defensive penalties and short drives created by Navarro turnovers.
There were plenty of causes for the Bulldogs’ problems against Trinity Valley. Navarro had been committing less than six penalties per game entering the contest, but then proceeded to be whistled 20 times for 180 yards.
A chop block erased a 48-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Allen to Austin Collins with less than a minute left in the first half that would have tied the score and shifted the momentum of the game.
Then in the fourth quarter, when the Bulldogs were in need of any spark to stem the Trinity Valley flood, defensive back Paul Banks’ 57-yard fumble return for a touchdown was called back because of an offsides penalty.
Making his first career start, Allen was inconsistent and often indecisive, completing 12 of 24 passes for 59 yards. Trinity Valley also sent a slew of rushers at him throughout the game, sacking the sophomore seven times and forcing him into four fumbles as he held onto the ball in a ever-tightening pocket. Navarro’s offense was limited to a season-low 269 yards.
“Alex had a very bad game,” Mayper said. “He was making the first start of his career, but he appeared relaxed and calm. He just didn’t make the plays we had to have to compete against (Trinity Valley).”
Allen did lead Navarro to a pair of ideal scoring opportunities in the first half, effectively mixing the quarterback draw with the running of Wright (22-131-1).
The Bulldogs used a fourth-down personal foul penalty to reach the Trinity Valley 10 with less than five minutes left in the first period. But Navarro lost two yards in three plays and Mayper opted not to go for a 31-yard field goal against a stiff wind. On fourth down, Allen fumbled and lost 8 yards, taking the Bulldogs out of a scoring position.
Navarro was back at the Trinity Valley 5 on the next series, but instead of kicker Carlos Macias attempting a 22-yard field goal, the Bulldogs attempted to go for a tying touchdown. Defensive end Jhaustin Thomas promptly hauled down Allen for a 10-yard sack.
“I was looking at our kicking game on both occasions and I didn’t have confidence in it. It wasn’t just the kicker, it was across the board, from protection, to the snap, the hold and the kick,” Mayper said. “If we’re at the 15 and miss the kick, we give the ball back to them at the 20.
“Last week, I went for it, we scored and I looked like a genius. This week we don’t score and no one understands the reasoning of going for it. If we had scored this week, there would be no questions.”
Navarro’s defense played well most of the night, limiting Trinity Valley’s offense to almost 200 yards below its norm. Ryan Polite, who threw for 385 yards last week, was 19 of 36 for 174 yards and was picked off once.
Trinity Valley 35, Navarro 7
Trinity Valley 0 7 21 7 — 35
Navarro 0 0 7 0 — 7
T — Jarvis Baxter 22 pass from Ryan Polite (Dylan McLain kick)
N — Tim Wright 16 run (Carlos Macias kick)
T — Marquel McNac 56 run (McLain kick)
T — Luis Lopez 1 run (McLain kick)
T — Jataveon Green 37 pass from Polite (McLain kick)
T — Trent Momon 11 pass from Polite (McLain kick)
First Downs 18 17
Rush-yards 32-177 57-210
Passing yards 174 59
C-A-I 19-36-1 12-24-0
Fumbles-lost 2-0 6-3
Punts-avg. 6-39 8-37
Penalties 17-163 20-180
Rushing — T: Tavareon Dickerson 6-24, Marquel McNac 7-80, Ryan Polite 6-2, Luis Lopez 4-6, Jarvis Baxter 1-(-1), Darius Floyd 1-(-5), Josh Caldwell 1-5, Jeff Harris 5-70, Hunter McCoy 1-(-3); N: Tim Wright 22-131, Cameron Washington 12-51, Alex Allen 23-28.
Passing — T: Polite 19-36-1-171; N: Allen 12-24-0-59.
Receiving — T Jataveon Green 4-53, Jarvis Baxter 1-22, Franky Okafor 3-6, Trent Momon 1-11, McNac 2-(-7), Anterric Maxey 1-8, John Thomas 1-19, Darius Floyd 4-38, Paul Barksdale 2-24; N: Devin Lauderdale 3-24, Markel Steward-Gillespie 6-29, Washington 2-(-5), Chadd Dansby 1-11