Special teams, defense fuel Navarre’s 21-13 victory

Posted on September 7, 2019 by Jay Phillips

 Kobe Johnson (21), who recovered the game-clinching fumble, taking the field. (Photo by Jay Phillips).

Navarre traveled to Milton Friday night and beat the Panthers 21-13 in Navarre’s first road game of the regular season.

Navarre (3-0) has won three-straight games against county-rivals to start off the 2019 season, while Milton (1-1) followed up their 36-6 opening night win against Pensacola high school with tonight’s loss.

“We’ve played everyone in our county,” head coach Jay Walls said. “We talked to our guys about the unofficial county championship and this was a great effort by our kids to win it.”

Senior quarterback Marlon Courtney started off the game well, throwing two touchdowns in the first half, but it was Navarre’s special teams who scored the first touchdown of the night.

That came after Milton was forced to punt on their first possession, but instead of punting, the snap flew over the punter’s head and Navarre recovered it in the end zone.

Outside of the first touchdown, and a long touchdown-drive from Milton’s offense, the first half was dominated by Navarre’s offense.

Courtney found sophomore receiver Trenton Hall for Navarre’s second touchdown and threw a bomb to senior receiver Tyler England that was good for 82 yards and Navarre’s third touchdown.

Milton was forced to punt on their first possession of the second half after a sack from junior defensive linemen Grady Kelly brought up fourth and long, but both teams would remain scoreless in the third quarter.

Navarre’s defense didn’t skip a beat in the third quarter, but two second half interceptions by Courtney gave new life to Milton’s offense and helped keep Navarre from scoring any points in the second half.

The Panthers scored on the possession following the second interception by finding their freshman phenom receiver, Raymond Cottrell, in the back of the end zone.

Milton followed that up with what looked like another touchdown, which would have given the Panthers an opportunity to tie the game, but the ball was fumbled into the end zone and Navarre recovered the ball and killed the clock to come away with a win.

“That right there was the epitome of our defense,” Walls said. “Not giving up, running down there and knocking the ball loose.”

Despite having a few guys sick and injured, such as senior running back Jaydin Antonio and senior linebacker Jeffrey Mattox, Walls believes the Raiders will be healthy for next week.

Navarre has another major test on their schedule next week, with a road trip to Lincoln high school in Tallahassee waiting for the Raiders this coming Thursday.

“We have to be road warriors, for sure,” Walls said. “Next week, and then the following week when we have to go to Pine Forest.”

Navarre hasn’t played Lincoln since the Raiders travelled there for a playoff game during the 2010 season.

Navarre wound up losing that game 34-33, ending a magical run for the Raiders.

Lincoln is currently 2-1, with their one loss coming at Rockledge high school.

Lincoln’s two wins have been against Godby and Tate, who they beat 43-0 this week.

Navarre will play at Lincoln this coming Thursday with kickoff set for 6 p.m. CST/7 p.m. EST.