STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
– SHENENDOAH – It didn’t take the Navasota Rattlers long to show the Huffman-Hargrave Falcons they were in for a long night Friday.
Navasota scored in its first possession, then added four more scores in the first half to build a 32-point cushion at the half, on the way to a dominating 44-3 victory at Woodforest Bank Stadium in the Regional Round of the Class 3A Division I playoffs.
The victory lifts the Rattlers (11-1) into the regional quarterfinals for the fifth straight season where they will face top-ranked Chapel Hill, which defeated La Vega, 27-20. Chapel Hill eliminated Navasota from the playoffs last season in the quarterfinals, 42-13. Huffman, which finished second in 22-3A ends its season at 9-3.
“I don’t think I will have to get our kids geared up,”Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said. “They know it is a big ballgame. We just have to keep playing our type of game and get ready to face the No. 1 team inthe state.”
The Rattlers put the wraps on a Falcon offense that came in averaging 338 yards per game, holding them to 104 in the first half and 135 on the game. The halftime yardage total was inflated by a 52-yard run on a fakepunt.
“I was very proud of our kids,” Fedora said. “Look at what our defense did, holding them to three points. It was a fake punt that got them down there. Then we held on and stood strong and made them kick a field goal.”
Meanwhile the Navasota offense rolled up 398 yards by the half, totaling 546 for the game. Kadarius Baker threw two touchdown passes in the first half, one of 73 yards to Austin Collins and one covering 97 yards to Solomon McGinty. Xavier Creeks rushed for a pair of touchdowns — 1 yard and 41 yards — as the Rattlers took control early.
“We only had 30 snaps [in the first half] but everything we were doing was working,” Fedora said. “Our offensive line, you have to give them credit, they were not allowing any penetration and they did a great job.”
Baker, who continues to state his case as the top quarterback in the Brazos Valley, finished the night completing 16 of 20 passes for 290 yards with two touchdowns. On the season he has thrown for 37 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
“Kadarius did what he had to do,” Fedora said.
When Baker wasn’t cutting up the defense with his passing,Creeks was doing it with his legs. The junior tailback finished the night with 134 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries.
While the offense for Navasota was sharp, the story on the night was the defense, which seemed to know where every play was going and managed to get to the spot before the Falcons could.
The secondary picked off Huffman quarterbacks twice— one by Creeks and one by Collins — and shut down a passing attack that was Huffman’s bread and butter all season long.
Starting quarterback Preston Townley, who had thrown for 2,670 yards and 29 touchdowns coming in, only managed 22 yards passing before he was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter. His backup, sophomore Cole Harrell, completed just 5 of 14 passes for 45 yards.
In the second half, the Rattlers wasted no time adding to their lead. Navasota got the kick to start the half and went 72 yards in just nine plays. Creeks concluded the drive with his third score of the night, this one from 6-yards out.
Cesar Barron, who kicked five extra points on the night,concluded the scoring with a 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.