TYLER — Navarro stormed back into the Southwest Junior College Football Conference championship game by roaring to a 17-point second-half lead and then holding on for a 33-24 victory against No. 7-ranked Tyler on Saturday.
The Bulldogs (8-2) will get a much-anticipated return engagement with Trinity Valley next Saturday in Athens in the title game. The Cardinals defeated Navarro 38-7 in a rain-soaked game in Corsicana earlier this season.
No. 15 Navarro led by a field goal at halftime against Tyler, but went on lengthy scoring drives late the in third period to grab a 27-10 lead entering the final frame.
The key to Navarro’s surge was its grinding rushing attack that accounted for 304 yards, including a career-high 187 yards on 29 carries from running back Tim Wright. The sophomore from La Marque had 117 yards in the second half, ripping off five double-digit runs that included a 10-yard scoring effort with 4:56 to go in the third period.
With time dwindling under a minute in the stanza, Carson Earp dashed untouched through the middle of Tyler’s defense on a quarterback draw on third and 25, pushing Navarro’s lead to 17.
The Apaches (8-2) rallied to within a field goal in a span of 1:06 of the fourth quarter to make the game appear headed for a frantic finish. Quarterback Randy Price fired a 28-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Carraway at the 14:26 mark and the Apaches immediately got the ball back when Tarlandus Mitchell muffed the ensuing kickoff at the Navarro 25.
Four plays later, Price fired a strike to Joshua Reynolds on a quick slant on a fourth-and-three play, cutting Navarro’s lead to 27-23 with 13:20 left in the contest.
Navarro kicker Carlos Macias, who already had a pair of field goals in the first half, then contributed back-to-back three-pointers of 42 and 36 yards, again making it a two-possession game.