Mystery meets opening night on Saturday at Tiger Stadium, where Navarro’s Bulldogs play their home opener against No. 18 Blinn.
You bet, because even on Friday afternoon Navarro coach Scott Parr still didn’t know if Parker McNeil would be available to start at quarterback for his Bulldogs.
“It’s a game time decision,” said Parr, who saw McNeil, the top junior college quarterback in the nation suffer an injury last week against Kilgore.
McNeil left the game in the third quarter with an upper body injury and Parr isn’t sure if his QB will play Saturday when the Dawgs kick off at 7 p.m. at Tiger Stadium against Blinn.
Dodge Delozier, who was the No. 3 QB on the depth chart, stepped in and led the Dawgs to a 96-yard 11-play scoring drive in the fourth quarter, connecting on 3 of 7 passes for 40 yards.
And it might be Delozier, a true freshman, who has to lead Navarro against Blinn.
Either way, after an 0-2 start, the Bulldogs need to win their opening game at home.
“Yes, we want to win our first game at home, but it wouldn’t matter if we were playing in New York City or Mexico City, we want to win,” Parr said.
“We’re very proud to represent the community, and we feel like we have a good product and we want Navarro football to be a bright spot in the community. It would be great to win our first game at home.”
Blinn started the season ranked No. 11 and fell to No. 18 after losing its conference opener to Tyler last week, 27-24 in a game that Tyler led 20-0 and 27-7 at the end of the third quarter.
The Dawgs, who began the season ranked No. 18, have lost to two nationally-ranked teams, falling to No. 19 Georgia Military (33-30 and No. 2 Kilgore 43-33 last week. But Navarro trailed 28-26 in the third when McNeil, who led the nation in passing a year ago and led the NJCAA after the first week, left the game.
Parr wants run the ball more this week, and he felt that way before McNeil’s injury. The Bulldogs need more balance. Keaton Dudik is expected th get more carries this week. He leads Navarro in rushing with 104 yards on 23 carries after two games. Isaiah Robertson has rushed for 60 yards on 18 carries.
“We want to run the ball,” Parr said. “It doesn’t look like it the past couple of weeks, but we do feel we can run the ball.
Parr also wants his defense to play better.
“One of the positives is that we’ve scored more than 30-plus points in each of our games,” he said. “That should be good enough to win. We did hold Kilgore under 100 yards rushing and we have played well on defense. We just need to get a win.
“We like our team,” he said. “We see them every day and see how hard they work, and we see their character. We’ve improved from Game 1 to Game 2, and we hope to play better Saturday.”
Blinn presents problems. The Bucs hammered Navarro a year ago in Brenham, 38-17, but QB Daveon Boyd did most of the damage, throwing for 304 yards and running for another 68 (372 combined yards). He was replaced by QB Brock Landis, who led Blinn to the conference title game. Landis returned this season and he has completed 21-of-33 passes for 487 yards and eight touchdowns in two games, including a 62-7 laugher against Texas A&T in the season opener.
If McNeil plays Saturday’s game could be a shootout, but without him the Bulldogs will have to find a way to put up points against an explosive Blinn team that was picked to win the conference.
The Bucs have rushed for 468 yards in two games to go along with Landis’ ability tho throw and to score. Danny Gray is a dangerous receiver who has caught nine passs for 101 yards.
“They’ve got a really good quarterback,” Parr said. “And they’ve got a very good wide receiver in Gray. He’s similar to the guys we saw last week at Kilgore. He’s got game breaking ability. We’ve got to be able to contain him. He’s definitely a game changer.”
That’s what Navarro’s going to need Saturday — a game changer and a big game that could change the season in one night.