Nothing seems to bother the 2007 edition of the Navarro College football team.

Not committing eight turnovers in the last two games. Not playing the defending national champions on back-to-back Saturdays. Not even playing a postseason game with a roster of players with zero college playoff experience against a team entering the season ranked second in the nation.

The Bulldogs let the defense set the tone and then the offense kicked in with 363 total yards in a 28-9 victory over Blinn at Tiger Stadium on Saturday in the first round of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference playoffs.

Navarro, which defeated Blinn in successive weeks by a combined 70-17, will now get a chance to erase a shaky early-season performance when it travels next Saturday to play Kilgore in the SWJCFC championship game. Kilgore defeated Navarro 28-26 in the first conference game of the season.

The win assures the 7-3 Bulldogs of a bowl game. If Navarro wins the title game, it will play in the Pilgrim’s Pride Bowl in Mount Pleasant. A second-place finish would send the Bulldogs to the Heart of Texas Bowl in Copperas Cove.

In its second successive win over the Bucs (7-3), Navarro’s defense was dominant, forcing six turnovers and limiting the powerful Blinn offense to only 302 total yards and 24 points under its season average.

Navarro intercepted Blinn quarterback Terrance Cain four times and allowed the redshirt freshman to complete only 15 of 31 passes for 201 yards.

Normally a 63 percent passer, Cain often found little downfield and was forced to find receivers underneath. Navarro’s defense was ready to pounce, yielding 6.7 yards per attempt.

"Our defense tried to set the tone in the game from the start," said linebacker Donald Booker, who picked off Cain on the third play of the game. "We watched film and watched film and the coaches told us what Blinn was going to try to do different from last week. Blinn did exactly what the coaches said they were going to do and we were ready for them.

"We wanted this game pretty bad, and now we get to play the championship game. I’ve never had a chance to play for a ring before. It would mean a lot to me, my teammates and this program."

Navarro grabbed a 7-0 lead at the half when Jeremy Sanders hit Kevin Diles for a 14-yard score.

Sanders had an up-and-down day, completed 9 of 17 passes for 135 yards and added a second touchdown pass of 33 yards in the third period to Jason Madkins. But Sanders was picked off once, was held to four yards on 11 carries and also lost two fumbles.

"But that’s the thing about this team that’s so great," said coach Ray Woodard. "We’ll make some mistakes early and we just shrug them off and keep playing hard. Eventually, it seems, we always get things going back our way."

That indeed happened for the running attack in the second half. Limited to 71 yards in the first half, Navarro began to grind it out in the third period

First Octavious Logan broke through a gaping hole for a 46-yard third period TD and a 14-0 Bulldog lead.

Sanders and Madkins hooked up in the back of the end zone on the ensuing series for their touchdown on a fourth-and-20 play, giving the Bulldogs a 21-0 edge at the 6:24 mark of the third quarter.

A 58-yard completion by Cain preceded his 10-yard scoring pass to Justin Jordan, shaving Navarro’s lead to 21-7.

Navarro went back to the ground again to begin burning time off the clock. The Bulldogs had 228 yards rushing in the game.

Starter Tyrone Ross was the key runner against this week, following his 113-yard performance in the regular-season finale with 143 yards on 18 carries, including a 62-yard scamper for Navarro’s final score.

Then it was the Bulldog defense that took control. Navarro intercepted four passes and recovered a fumble in the second half.

Sheldon Monsegue and Jonathon Thomas had pickoffs in the third period and defensive back Kory Smith picked off passes on successive series late in the fourth period.

Blinn was inside the Navarro 30 on all four of its final possessions but came away with nothing.

The lone Buc points in the second half came via a safety when Navarro punter Chad McIntosh stepped out the back of the end zone.

"I thought Blinn would try to establish the running game today, but when we got more than two scores up, they had to pass and we played well in coverage," Woodard said. "It was like a replay of last week.

"I’m so proud of this group of kids. To go from 1-2 to 7-3 and a bowl says a lot about them. Now, we’ve got one more step and that’s next week in Kilgore."

Box Score

Navarro 28, Blinn 9

Blinn 0 0 7 2 — 9

Navarro 7 0 14 7 — 28

First Quarter

N — Kevin Diles 14 pass from Jeremy Sanders (Chad McIntosh kick)

Third Quarter

N — Octavious Logan 46 run (McIntosh kick)

N — Jason Madkins 33 pass from Sanders (McIntosh kick)

B — Justin Jordan 10 pass from Terrance Cain (Brad Hicks kick)

Fourth Quarter

N — Tyrone Ross 62 run (McIntosh kick)

B — Safety, punter steps out back of end zone


First Downs 14 15

Rushing 27-78 47-228

Passing 17-35-5 9-17-1

Passing Yards 234 135

Fumbles 2-1 3-2

Punting 5-35 4-35

Penalties 8-70 13-108

Individual Totals

Rushing: Blinn – Justin Jordan 3-3 , Terrance Cain 9-14, Jason Barnes 1-(-1), Zach Booker 1-1, Joshua Lewis 3-13, Reginald Brown 10-48. Navarro – Tyrone Ross 18-143, Jeremy Sanders 11-4, Octavious Logan 4-56, William Powell 6-10, Gerald Harris 1-4, Justin Sturns 1-4, Andre Bevil 1-(-1), Team 1-(-4).

Passing: Blinn – Terrance Cain 15-31-4-201, Cotton Turner 2-4-1-33; Navarro – Sanders 9-17-1-135.

Receiving: Blinn – Jordan 3-26, P.Brown 3-15, Rod Harris 2-14, Blake Kelly 1-8, Joshua Lewis 2-26, E. J. LeBlanc 2-20, Reginald Brown 1-17, Zach Booker 1-21; Navarro – Jason Madkins 1-33, Kevin Diles 2-24, Benny Jones 2-17, Ross 1-8, Rodney Bradley 1-33, Logan 1-22, Andre Banks 1-9.

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