STORY BY: JORDAN MESEROLE
NAVASOTA – Spending much of the game on the field Friday night, the Rudder Ranger defense couldn’t hold back an onslaught by the speedy Navasota Rattler offense, as Navasota easily cruised toa 31-7 victory at Rattler Stadium.
The game started with hope for the Rangers, as the defense was able to stop two long drives by Navasota, forcing field goal attempts on both drives. Navasota senior kicker Cesar Barron missed the first attempt from 32 yards out, but nailed it through the uprights on his second attempt with 30 seconds left in the first quarter from 26 yards out to put the Rattlers up 3-0.
The Rudder offense, which went three-and-out on its only two possessions in the first quarter as well as another two more in the second quarter, couldn’t gain much traction in the first half of the game, placing the burden back on its defense to try and contain the balanced run-and-pass attack of Navasota.
And as Navasota continued to control the time of possession, the weary Rudder defense began to show gaps in its coverage in the second quarter. With 9:48 left in the second, Navasota junior quarter back Kadarius Baker connected on a 20 yard pass to junior receiver Solomon McGinty to push the lead to 10-0. After recovering a fumble by Rudder deep inits own territory, Navasota scored again just 58 seconds later on a six yard scramble by Baker.
And the gaps continued to grow larger in the Rudder defense before the half, as Baker once again connected with a wide-open McGinty for a35-yard touchdown pass, who was at least five yards away from the closest Rudder defender.
Baker posted 155 passing yards in the first half alone, andended the night with 205 yards on 15 completions.
Coming out of the locker room down 24-0, the Rangers showed a renewed energy, pushing the ball past the 50 yard marker on their first possession of the second half, and racked up two first downs on the drive, which was a marked improvement from their total of only one first down in the entire first half.
After forcing Navasota to punt for the first time in the game, Rudder showed it wasn’t completely done yet. Ranger senior quarterback Jamarcus Davenport kept the ball on a run up the middle and scrambled 59 yards to put Rudder on the board at 24-7.
Davenport finished the night as Rudder’s top rusher with 70 yards, and added another 21 yards through the air on only 10 passing attempts as the top passer.
The Rudder defense continued its strong second half play,forcing another punt and a fumble, but the Ranger offense again couldn’t solve Navasota’s defense, once again punting on one possession and adding another quick three-and-out on the other possession.
With 6:32, Navasota senior Jackob Malek sealed the win for the Rattlers by running easily 15 yards into the end zone, to put Navasota up 31-7.
The Navasota offense finished on the night with 390 total yards and possessed the ball for nearly 27 minutes of the game. Rudder finished the night with only five first downs, and 133 total yards of offense.
The Rangers – who now have a record of 1-1-1 – will face CEKing back at home on September 16 at Merrill Green Stadium.