Marlon Courney (1) finds Jaden Rivera (15) on a screen pass (by Jay Phillips)
Navarre travelled to Tallahassee and beat Leon 31-28 on Monday.
The game between Navarre (5-4) and Leon (3-5) was originally scheduled for last Friday, but the threat of hurricane Nestor got the game postponed until Monday.
“You can tell we were off for two days before we played this game, and that has never happened to us,” coach Jay Walls said.
Walls also asked his team to make a big play on the opening kickoff, and they did. Sophomore receiver Trent Hall took the kickoff and went 57 yards, but Navarre turned the ball over on downs just four plays later.
Navarre had a chance to return the favor as they forced Leon into a third down on the next possession, but Leon made the first down. Then the number 57 came back to bite the Raiders, as Leon took a run up the middle for 57 yards and a touchdown on the next play.
The teams traded touchdowns with field goals, giving Leon the ball and 14-6 lead when Navarre finally forced a turnover.
Following a successful fourth down conversion for Leon, Navarre was able to force a fumble and recover it on their own goal line, giving the Raiders some momentum.
“That was big,” Walls said. “Especially to have something good happen after the kids have worked so hard.”
Navarre kept that momentum going for Leon’s last possession of the first half. Despite Leon moving the ball to Navarre’s goal line, Navarre was able to stuff a run play, pick up a sack thanks to junior defensive linemen Grady Kelly, break up a pass thanks to senior defensive back Gabe Davis and then stop Leon’s fake field goal attempt.
That stand kept the score at 14-6 heading into halftime, and Navarre kept building momentum in the second half.
A lot of Navarre’s second half success came behind the efforts of senior receiver Tyler England and junior running back Jaden Rivera, who finished the game with 15 carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
England started off the second half swing by pinning Leon inside their own 10 yard line with a punt.
Two plays later England intercepted a deep pass that gave Navarre great field position.
Not only was Navarre able to come up with a few takeaways, but Navarre didn’t lose a single fumble or interception against Leon, the first time that has happened this season, and that shows an improvement in a category that the Raiders have been working hard at.
“It’s been a while since we won the turnover battle, so that was good,” Walls said.
Later in the game, Rivera would take a handoff 30 yards for a touchdown to give Navarre their first lead of the game.
He’d do the same thing just a few minutes later, taking another handoff for 40 yards and a touchdown, icing the game for Navarre, despite Leon scoring one last time in the final minute of the game.
Navarre will play Crestview tonight in Navarre for the Raiders’ final regular season game of 2019.
Navarre will be forced to play two games in five days due to the weather that postponed the Leon game until this week.
Navarre and Crestview split last year’s series with Navarre overcoming a 28-0 halftime deficit to win by six points in overtime.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, Crestview was able to get payback in the playoffs, where they beat the Raiders 49-27.
This season’s game between Crestview and Navarre is scheduled to kickoff Friday at 7:30 PM in Navarre.