Navarro exploded for a 22-point fourth quarter and shut down Kilgore’s offense en route to a 42-14 win Saturday at R.E. St. John Stadium in the SWJCFC semifinals.
Navarro’s victory, coupled with Northeastern Oklahoma A&M holding off Tyler 37-34 in the other conference semifinal, earns the Bulldogs a rematch with the Golden Norsemen, who defeated Navarro to end the regular season.
No. 13-ranked Navarro (8-2) will travel to Miami, Okla., next Saturday to play No. 4-ranked NEO (9-1). Gametime will likely by 2 p.m.
Kilgore defeated Navarro 45-35 earlier this season on its home turf, but it struggled to keep pace with the Bulldogs on Saturday, recording minus-1 yard on 25 carries on the ground and finishing with three turnovers, two of which led to Navarro scores.
Navarro quarterback Stump Godfrey played well in every facet of the game, completing 18 of 27 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Godfrey also contributed 28 rushing yards and a 2-yard scoring run early in the fourth period that quickly stretched the Bulldogs’ 20-14 lead to 14 points.
Running back Tyler Middleton, who did not play in the first half, led all rushers with 58 yards on four carries in the second half, including a 43-yard touchdown run with 7:58 remaining to build a 35-14 lead.
Navarro scored its final touchdown with 4:34 remaining when running back Traylon Shead, who was limited to 19 yards on nine carries, swept right and then stopped to deliver a perfect 29-yard TD pass to Jordan Jolly.
The entire Kilgore secondary, expecting Navarro to keep the ball on the ground with a commanding lead, had snuck close to the line of scrimmage to stop Shead.
Navarro played its first turnover-free game of the season, which helped offset a season-low in rushing yards (143 yards) as Kilgore kept 10 players within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage much of the game. Navarro had 270 yards through the air for 413 total yards, compared to only 213 for Kilgore.
The Bulldogs also received a big day from kicker Patrick Sohrt, who had field goals of 26 and 48 yards, the latter a career-high.
Navarro turned in a rare turnover-free half in the first 30 minutes of the semifinal to claim a 17-7 lead at the break.
Godfrey had much to do with Navarro’s first-half success. The Gilmer sophomore completed 12 of 17 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns and also continually scrambled his way out of trouble, picking up 38 more yards on the ground.
Godfrey also displayed pinpoint accuracy most of the first half and that showed best on the final drive of the second quarter. After Navarro stopped Kilgore on a fourth down at the Bulldog 30 with 45 seconds remaining, Godfrey rallied the Bulldogs with completions of 14 yards to Shillow, 25 to Eddie Johnson and 10 to Tim Wright for a first down at the Kilgore 23.
With just 9.7 second remaining, Godfrey lofted a fade pass to the right side of the end zone. Freshman wide receiver Markell Steward-Gillespie, who had only 4 receptions entering the game, caught the ball just before he approached the end line and held on despite being popped by three Bulldogs.
Godfrey was also key in Navarro’s first scoring drive. After a short Kilgore punt, Navarro took over at the Kilgore 35. Five plays later, Godfrey drilled Shillow from 7 yards for a 7-0 Bulldog lead at the 1:30 mark of the first period.
Kilgore, which did not have a first down until the 9:49 mark of the second quarter, finally got on the board with a 8-yard run by Tanner Tausch.
Navarro 42, Kilgore 14
Navarro 7 10 3 22 — 42
Kilgore 0 7 7 0 — 14
N —Gerard Shillow 7 pass from Stump Godfrey (Patrick Sohrt kick)
K — Tanner Tausch 8 run (Yovany Arvizu kick)
N — Sohrt 48 FG
N — Markell Steward-Gillespie 23 pass from Godfrey (Sohrt kick)
N — Sohrt 26 FG
K — Darrin Brown 19 pass from Tausch (Arvizu kick)
N — Godfrey 2 run (Tarlandus Mitchell pass to Shillow)
N — Tyler Middleton 43 run (Sohrt kick)
N — Jordan Jolly 29 pass from Traylon Shead (Sohrt kick)
First Downs 21 13
Rush-yards 39-143 25-(-1)
Passing yards 270 214
C-A-I 19-30-0 16-33-2
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Punts-avg. 6-34 6-40
Penalties 12-100 6-48
RUSHING: Navarro — Traylon Shead 9-19, Tyler Middleton 4-58, Stump Godfrey 15-28, Tim Wright 7-17, Tony Drake 4-21; Kilgore, Tanner Tausch 9-(-22), Kamirron Morrisey 3-12, Courtland Smith 6-12, Emory Miller 1-(-2), Ed’Marquees Batties 1-5, Emmanuel Roland 2-13, Tyler Chapa 3-(-19).
PASSING: Navarro — Godfrey 18-27-0-241, Tarlandus Mitchell 0-1-0-0, Riley Toler 0-1-0-0, Shead 1-1-0-29; Kilgore — Tasuch 15-29-2-202, Miller 0-1-0-0, Chapa 1-3-0-12.
RECEIVING: Navarro — James Washington 1-10, Gerard Shillow 5-49, Jordan Jolly 3-51, Eddie Johnson 3-42, Wright 2-10, Wareall Grogan 2-22, Markell Steward-Gillespie 1-23, Brandon Welch 1-1 Middleton 1-7; Kilgore — Batties 2-55, Darrien Brown 3-47, Joe Herrick 4-44, Miller 4-25, Morrisey 1-3, Steve Borden 1-18, Smith 1-22.