STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
NAVASOTA — The Navasota Rattlers wasted no time putting a charge into the Homecoming crowd at Rattler Stadium on Friday, scoring on their first play from scrimmage en route to a 54-0 non-district victory over the Wharton Tigers.
Quarterback Kadarius Baker, who threw seven touchdown passes — six in the first half — connected with Jacob Malek on a 78-yard scoring pass on the Rattlers’ first play of the game, touching off a first-half offensive explosion.
Baker was near perfect in the completing 13 of 17 passes for 299 yards with six touchdowns to five different receivers. He finished the night 17-for-22 for 328 yards, leading the Rattler offense to eight scores on 10 offensive possessions.
The only time the Rattlers did not score when they had the ball was on their final two drives of the game, one ending on a missed field goal, the other when the clock hit all zeros to end the game.
“I was very proud of all our guys,” head coach Lee Fedora said. “Anytime you get a shutout, I don’t care who you are playing, it is important. That builds momentum. I am very proud of our kids, offensively, defensively, everything.”
After connecting with Malek, Baker hooked up with Xavier Creeks (16 yards), Solomon McGinty (28 and 20 yards), Austin Collins (64 yards) and Austin Baumert (26 yards) as the Rattlers built a 40-0 halftime lead.
Navasota (4-1) was never threatened by a Wharton (1-5), a team that is under the guidance of a new coach and was playing without its starting quarterback who was injured early in the season.
While the Rattler offense was busy putting up big numbers in the first half, the defense was keeping the Tigers in check, forcing them into five punts, one fumble and one interception on seven of their first-half drives. The Tigers’ eighth drive of the first half ended when time expired in the half.
Navasota’s defense held the Tigers to just 71 total yards in the first half, 34 rushing and 37 passing, forced two turnovers, a fumble recovery by Preston Neumann and an interception by Xavier Creeks.
The Tigers did not venture into Navasota’s side of the field until late in the first half, and needed a facemask penalty against the Rattlers to do so.
The second half looked similar to the first, with the Rattlers dominating on both sides of the ball. Baker threw one more touchdown pass, connecting with McGinty from 6-yards out, and Derek Byrd, seeing his first action of the season after returning from an injury, scoring the final points on a 5-yard run.
The final stats bore out the Rattlers domination with Navasota finishing with 570 total yards, 328 passing and 242 rushing, while holding Wharton to 175 total yards, 128 rushing and 47 passing.
Navasota will open 23-3A play next Friday when they host the Rockdale Tigers in a 7:30 p.m. contest.