If ever there were a time for the Navarro Bulldogs to snap out of their turnover funk, it would be this Saturday when they host Blinn in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference championship game.

There is ample incentive, of course. A victory would send the unbeaten Bulldogs into the national championship game. A loss would likely still mean a bowl, but not one that would land a ring on their finger and a football legacy to hand down to the next generation of Navarro players.

Blinn will certainly be brimming with confidence. The Bucs (8-2) rallied in the second half to defeat Kilgore, 52-42, to advance to the title game. Navarro (10-0) had to do a little rallying of its own against Trinity Valley, erasing the seven turnovers from their minds long enough to scored 14 points in the final period for a 31-20 win.

That was the first time this season Navarro had trailed in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs responded ... like champions.

“We rose up at the right time,” said Navarro coach Nick Bobeck. “Trinity Valley had us schemed up pretty good, but we were able to win the second part of the first half and the second part of the second half and I was just happy to get of there with a win. I wish we could get that for an entire game. You’ve got to play the whole game, every game. Our kids have to realize that every play is important.”

Navarro has survived the last two weeks despite 11 turnovers. Navarro is plus-5 in turnover-takeaway ratio this season, but is minus-4 in a three-point win over Blinn in the season finale and in last Saturday’s semifinal.

There was a positive atmosphere and good news at the Navarro football offices on Sunday afternoon. Three starters who missed the Trinity Valley game will be back for Blinn. Quarterback Milton Howell (shoulder), defensive end Brandon Joiner (hamstring) and tackle Zhamal Thomas (deep thigh bruise) are on schedule to be back in the lineup for the title tilt.

Good timing for several reasons. Andre Bevil passed for 265 yards and three touchdowns against Trinity Valley, but he was also picked off four times in his first start in five weeks. Howell was relieved on Navarro’s final series vs. Blinn when the shoulder he hurt in the first quarter became debilitating. A week of rest and treatment has the freshman ready to go.

Navarro’s pass rush has been non-existent the last two weeks. Navarro has two sacks in 88 pass attempts, including none as Trinity Valley passed a season-high 55 times. Joiner will help mightily in that endeavor. He’s second in the conference with nine sacks.

“We did a better job keep receivers in front of us and rallying to the ball against Trinity Valley,” Bobeck said. “I thought we might get a pass rush, but there just wasn’t much there.”

Bobeck praised his defense’s ability to keep Trinity Valley at bay, especially considering the Cardinals ran 90 plays and was on the field for almost 32 minutes. Trinity Valley also started drives in opposing territory five times, compared to once for Navarro.

“Our kids played pretty well defensively,” Bobeck said. “When we committed a turnover and our defense was able to get (Trinity Valley) off the field with only field goal attempts (three) or nothing.”

That brings the discussion back to the offense, which has been productive (492 yards vs. TVCC), but it also has shot off most of its toes the last two games with double-digit turnovers.

“I don’t know who to keep them from imploding other that to stress the value of the football,” Bobeck said. “We’re going to show film and teach off it. That’s all I know to do right now.

“But we’ve kept winning despite our problems. We’re going to be ready to go and ready to play a great team on Saturday. It’s going to be a great game

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