STORY BY: TIM SCHNETTLER
CONROE — The Navasota Rattlers scored every time they touched the ball in the first half as they rolled to a 59-14 victory over the Jasper Bulldogs in the area round of the Class 3A Division II playoffs Friday night.
The Rattlers scored five touchdowns and also added a field goal in the first 24 minutes of play as they ran the Bulldogs right out of Buddy Moorhead Stadium in Conroe.
The victory lifted the Rattlers (12-0) into regional round of the playoffs where they will face La Marque, which defeated Coldspring, 35-21. The time, date and place for that game is still to be determined. Jasper saw its season end at 9-3.
“I was very proud of our kids,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said. “We faced a talented group and out kids came out on fire. I was proud of the way our offense played, our defense played and our special teams played.”
Rattler quarterback Kadarius Baker had another outstanding game, completing 21-of-30 passes for 398 yards and five touchdowns before exiting the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Austin Collins led the receiving corps with seven receptions for 196 yards and three touchdowns and Solomon McGinty added four catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. Demarcus Lee finished with five catches for 54 yards, providing another solid target for Baker when Jasper tried to take McGinty and Collins away as receiving options.
“I thought he made some unbelievable catches tonight,” Fedora said of Lee.
On defense, the Rattlers held Jasper in check, limiting the Bulldogs to 275 total yards. Jasper, which had ridden the powerful rushing attack of Terrence Cuney into the playoffs, did manage 214 rushing yards, but a majority of the yards came when the game was well out of reach.
Navasota started fast and never looked back against the Bulldogs. Less than 40 seconds into the game Baker and McGinty hooked up on the first of Baker’s four first-half touchdown passes. The score to McGinty covered 40 yards to complete a two-play, 59-yard drive.
The Rattlers added a 35-yard field goal from Michael Martinez to push the lead to 10-0 with 7:17 left in the first quarter.
Jasper got on the board five minutes later when Terrence Cuney bulled in from the 1-yard live. The score was set up by a 41-yard pass completion from Steven Walker to Demarcus Collins that moved the ball into Rattler territory.
The Jasper score was just a minor setback, however, as the Rattlers answered with four more scores before the half would end.
First Baker would connect with Austin Collins on a 24-yard score and then he hit Xavier Creeks on a swing pass for a 19-yard score. The Rattlers then turned to the ground to reach pay dirt when Creeks totted the pigskin in from 15-yards out.
Then, after forcing a punt with 1:14 left in the half, Baker needed just one play, a 50-yard pass to Collins to increase the Rattler lead to 38-7 at the half.
If Jasper’s hopes were not deflated at the half, the Rattlers made sure there were in the third quarter.
The teams traded scoreless possessions before Collins and Baker teamed up for the third time on the night. Baker hit Collins across the middle, and after breaking a tackle, Collins outraced everyone for a 66-yard score.
The Rattlers sandwiched a pair of rushing touchdowns around a Jasper score in the final 9 minutes of play to provide the final margin.
Howard Horn capped a three-play, 36-yard drive with a 10-yard run and Derrion Randle provided the final touchdown of the night, plowed his way in for a 13-yard score.