STORY BY TIM SCHNETTLER
CONROE — The Navasota Rattler defense finally gave up a touchdown after three consecutive shutouts, but it was just a minor bump in the road as the top-ranked team in Class 4A rolled to a 55-15 victory over the Needville Blue Jays in bi-district playoff action Friday night at Buddy Moorhead Stadium.
Quarterback Shelton Eppler and receiver Tren’Davian Dickson combined for four touchdowns — all in the first half — pacing a Rattler offensive attack that had its way with the Needville defense.
“We came out and jumped on them early and that is what we talked about,” Rattler head coach Lee Fedora said. “I think we did a good job of that.”
The victory moves the Rattlers into the area round of the playoffs where they will face the winner of Saturday’s game between Hargrave and Chapel Hill who meet in Lufkin.
Eppler, who threw 42 touchdown passes in the regular season, continued his stellar junior season completing 21-of-37 for 455 yards and six touchdowns.
Dickson, who has already committed to Baylor as a junior, was virtually unstoppable. He had six receptions for 250 yards and four touchdowns. His grabs included two spectacular receptions where he went up and took the ball away from the defender.
“They were putting their small guy on him and we were picking on it,” Fedora said.
The running game was in sharp form as well as LaMarquis Jefferson rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
The Rattler defense, which had held its last three opponents out of the end zone and had not yielded more than 100 yards in its last four games, finally had a team crack the century mark in yardage, but came up big when it needed to.
Twice in the first quarter the Blue Jays went for it on fourth down after reaching Navasota territory, and both times the Rattler defense turned them away.
Needville did find the end zone twice on the night and finished with 252 total yards — 106 rushing and 146 passing.
NAVASOTA 55, NEEDVILLE 15
First Downs 17 9
Rushes/Yards 19/170 36/106
Passing Yards 455 146
Total Yards 625 252
PC-PA-PI 21-37-2 10-23-1
Punts/Avg 0 6/37.3
Fumbles/Lost 0/0 1/1
Penalties/Yards 6/46 8/80
NAVASOTA 21 21 13 0 — 55
NEEDVILLE 0 8 0 7 — 15
N AV— LaMarquis Jefferson 25 run (Michele Martinez) 5 plays 59 yards (10:33)
NAV — Tren’Davian Dickson 71 pass from Shelton Eppler (Martinez kick) 1 play 71 yards (9:18)
NAV — Dickson 25 pass from Eppler (Martinez kick) 4 plays 73 yards (3:07)
NAV — Dickson 46 pass from Eppler (Martinez) 4 plays 80 yards (11:50)
NE — Logan Archer 1 run (George Rodriguez run) 10 plays 41 yards (6:16)
NA — Davon Jernigan 15 pass from Eppler (Martinez kick) 9 plays 61 yards (3:37)
NA — Dickson 58 pass from Eppler (Martinez kick) 1 play 58 yards (:37)
NA — Ro’Davion Brown 10 pass from Eppler (Martinez kick) 6 plays 62 yards (5:27)
NA — Jarvis Norman 5 run (run failed) 5 plays 72 yards (2:13)
NE — Devion Starr 24 run (Kyle Springer kick) 9 plays 83 yards (9:34)
Top passers: NA: Eppler 21-37-455 6 TDs, 2 INTS; NE Archer 10-23-146 INT
Top receivers: NA: Dickson 6-250 4 TDs; NE: Jordan Harris 8-83
Top rushers: NA: Jefferrson 11-130 TD; NE: Starr 19-89 TD