By TIM SCHNETTLER
MADISONVILLE — The Navasota Rattlers opened the 2011 season with a bang, dominating the Madisonville Mustangs from start to finish on their way to a 40-7 non-district victory Friday night.
Kadarius Baker passed for 342 yards and three touchdowns and also added another rushing as the Rattlers’ offense amassed 537 yards. Junior Howard Horn, making his varsity debut, rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown on just 12 carries.
“I think he was very poised and I was very pleased with him,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said of Baker. “Kadarius really put his foot on the pedal and I thought he had an outstanding night and I was very pleased with the way Howard ran the football.”
Navasota’s defense was just as stout as its offense, holding the Mustangs to just 268 yards, forcing six fumbles, five of which the Rattlers recovered.
“When you score 40 and you only give up 7 that is awesome,” Fedora said. “I thought our defense played outstanding tonight.”
The first half set the tone as the Rattlers rolled up 322 yards — 199 passing and 123 rushing — while holding Madisonville to just 87 on their way to a 19-0 halftime lead.
After going three-and-out on its first possession, Navasota found the end zone the next two times it touched the ball. Both scoring drives needed just seven plays, the first covering 99 yards and the second 74.
On the first scoring drive of the night, the Rattlers started in the shadows of their own goalpost after a punt by Madisonville’s Eduardo Martinez pinned them at their own 1-yard line.
It didn’t take them long to escape the hole as Horn broke loose for a big gainer taking the ball across midfield and into Mustang territory. Horn capped the drive when he went in from 1-yard out for the first touchdown of the 2011 season. Cesar Barron added the extra point putting the Rattlers up 7-0.
Navasota upped the lead, this time taking to the air for the score, when Baker hit Austin Collins for an 18-yard score to cap a seven-play, 74-yard drive. The extra point kick missed wide left, leaving the score at 13-0.
Navasota added too its lead just before the end of the second half, covering 71 yards in just 3 plays, all in the air. Baker started the drive with a completion to Jared Sauls, and then hit Demarcus Lee who was hauled down at the Madisonville 24-yard line. Baker went back to Sauls, who broke free for the score. The two-point run failed, putting the Rattlers up 19-0 at the half.
Navasota tacked on another score in the third quarter marching 95 yards in just eight plays. Baker capped the drive when he eased in from 1-yard out. Barron’s extra point made it 26-0.
Madisonville scored its only points of the game as it cashed in on the only turnover of the night by the Rattlers. After recovering a fumble, the Mustangs completed a pass down to the Rattlers’ 5-yard line.
From there, Keelan Jones needed just one play to cover the rest of the yardage and the extra point from Eduardo Palacios made it 26-7.
Navasota tacked on two more scores before the final seconds ticked off as Jacob Malek hauled in a 55-yard pass form Baker and Xavier Creeks took on option pitch and raced 25 yards to cap the scoring.
Navasota will be on the road again next week as the Rattlers travel to Willis to take on the Wildkats.