Navarro's Bulldogs, who have come back all year, pulled off their biggest comeback Saturday when Parker McNeil threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Lee with 20 seconds left to beat Trinity Valley 26-24 in the conference semifinal at Bruce Field in Athens.
Nope, it wasn't a Hail Mary -- just another laser from McNeil, the NJCAA's No. 1 quarterback.
The Dawgs now advance to the title game next Saturday at Tiger Stadium, where they will host New Mexico Military Institute, which upset nationally-ranked Kilgore 20-10 Saturday.
It has been a wild ride for the Bulldogs, who started the season 0-3 and 0-2 in the conference. But they just hung on and hung around, and reached the SWJCFC playoffs last week after losing to Trinity Valley 45-44 when McNeil was hit at the TVCC 13-yard-line in the final minutes and fumbled the ball away.
On Saturday McNeil and the Bulldogs hung on to the ball and their title hopes on a winning drive that covered 78 yards in four plays, and broke TVCC's heart by scoring two touchdowns in the final 4:35 of the game to overtake the Cardinals not once, but twice.
TVCC led the entire game until the Dawgs drove 66 yards on a 13-play fourth-quarter drive that stayed alive with a fake field goal attempt at the Cardinal 38, where Austin Brougham connected with Torin Hamilton, who won a jump ball at the TVCC 3-yard-line.
It took four plays to score from there but Keonte Stoker found the end zone on a three-yard run on a fourth-and goal play when Navarro coach Scott Parr, who gambled on the fake field goal, rolled the dice again on fourth down with 4:35 left in the game. McNeil's two-point conversion pass sailed off Lee's finger tips, but the Dawgs had a 19-18 lead.
Trinity Valley snatched it right back, scoring on a 17-yard pass from Jeremy Hunt to Willie Cherry to go up 26-19. The lead was frozen at five points on a two-point incompletion, but the Cardinals left only 1:26 on the clock for Navarro.
Plenty of time for McNeil, who left Bruce Field as Navarro's and the SWJCFC's career leader in completions, attempts, passing yards and TD passes on a day when (for him) his numbers weren't McNeil-istic.
He threw for 476 yards and four TDs last week against TVCC and he set the Navarro single game passing record the last time he threw a ball at Bruce Field, throwing for 552 yards and six touchdowns in last season's finale against the Cardinals.
So, by comparison, his 23-for-37 day on Saturday that produced 234 yards and two touchdowns was his worst in his career against the Cardinals. But McNeil was sizzling on those last two drives.
After playing each other just seven days earlier in a game that lit up the scoreboard for 89 combined points and more than 2,100 combined yards, both defenses adjusted and took over Saturday.
Parr also switched gears and went to his running game a lot more. Isaiah Robinson responded, rushing for 132 yards on 22 carries to lead a Bulldog ground game that carried the ball and the Dawgs all afternoon as they ran 43 times for 174 yards.
McNeil had only 87 passing yards at halftime, and the Bulldogs trailed 12-6 with just a pair of Will McDaniel field goals to show for their offensive efforts.
TVCC's Eddie Godina kicked two field goals in each half and left as the NJCAA's all-time leader with 23 field goals. One more would have given TVCC the victory, but Navarro's defense stopped the Cardinals' final drive at the 46.
Believe it or not, the Bulldogs entered the playoffs with a losing record (4-5 overall) and have finally climbed to .500 with the victory that puts them in the title game.
How in the world did they get here?
The Dawgs ended the regular season last week in a five-way tie for third and advanced with a tiebreaking 3-1 record against the other four teams and earned the No. 3 seed because they beat No. 4 New Mexico.
Parr just kept believing, and so did his players.
He compared his team to the Washington Nationals, who came back from an abysmal 19-31 start to win the World Series last week.
Parr said this week that "We want to be the Washington Nationals."
But after Saturday, you can bet Parr wouldn't want to be anybody but the Navarro Bulldogs.