STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
NAVASOTA — For the second straight game the Navasota Rattlers got off to a quick start, scoring the first time they touched the ball. And for the second straight week the Rattlers broke the 50-point mark, cruising to a 53-14 victory over the Rockdale Tigers in the District 23-3A opener for both teams.
Navasota (5-1 overall, 1-0 in 23-3A), much like it had in last week’s shutout of Wharton, took control in the first half and never looked back. The Rattlers scored on their first possession, then added another score on their second after forcing a three-and-out the first time the Tigers (3-3, 0-1) touched the ball.
“I was pleased,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said. “When they [Rockdale] get off the bus they scare you because they are huge and they compete hard. I was very pleased with the effort our kids came out with.”
Kadarius Baker, who has been stellar in his first season as the Rattlers’ starting quarterback, continued to shine, rushing for three touchdowns and throwing for two more. Baker, finished the night with 143 yards passing, completing 14 of 19 passes. He also added 95 yards rushing on just eight carries.
As a team, the Rattlers compiled 416 total yards, rushing for 318, as Howard Horn finished with 95 yards on 10 carries to go with Baker’s 95. Derek Byrd and Xavier Creeks each had a rushing touchdown for the Rattlers, with Byrd carrying the ball nine straight times on the drive that ended in his score.
The Rattler defense had its second consecutive solid performance, holding a Rockdale offense that came in averaging 327 yards per game to just 119 total.
The Rockdale passing game, which had been flying high averaging 266 yards per game, was grounded, as the Rattlers limited them to just 22 yards on 3-of-19 passing. At the half the Tigers had just one completion for three yards.
“Our defense played great,” Fedora said. “We worked all week long getting our kids ready for the passing game. I thought our kids played well in the running game too. I was very pleased with our defensive play.”
Jacob Malek got the scoring started for the Rattlers with a 29-yard scoring run, and then Baker hooked up with Solomon McGinty on a 9-yard scoring pass. McGinty finished the night with seven catches for 92 yards.
Creeks added his score from 2-yards out before Baker closed out the first half scoring with a 19-yard run. Baker scored on a 1-yard run with 8:00 left in the third quarter before hooking up with Austin Collins on an 8-yard pass that made it 40-0.
Rockdale avoided the shutout when Dailynn Ramey returned the ensuing kick 94 yards for a touchdown after breaking out of a pileup and outracing everyone to the end zone.
The Rattlers suffered another special teams miscue on the kickoff following Ramey’s score, when the ball went off a Rattler and was recovered by the Tigers at the Navasota 37.
Eight plays later, James David went in form a yard out to make it 40-14, but the Rattlers added two more scores, a 59-yard run by Baker and Byrd’s 5-yard run to close things out.
The Rattlers return to district play next Friday when they play host to the La Grange Leopards.