STORY BY TIM SCHNETTLER
CONROE — The Navasota Rattlers came out fast and furious Friday night and the El
Campo Ricebirds couldn’t keep up. Top-ranked Navasota scored on all but two of its
possessions in the game en route to a 54-36 victory at Buddy Moorhead Stadium.
The victory improves the Rattlers to 13-0 and lifts them into the quarterfinals of the
Class 4A Division I playoffs where they will face either Jasper or Henderson. Those
teams play Saturday afternoon in Lufkin.
“We knew this was going to be a battle because they are a good football team,”
Rattler head coach Lee Fedora said of El Campo. “They are a smash-mouth football
Junior quarterback Shelton Eppler picked apart the El Campo defense, throwing for
377 yards and seven touchdowns, giving him 61 on the season. Eppler, who was 17-
for-23 on the night, had one of his best performances and was especially adept at
stepping up to avoid the pressure and then finding his receivers.
“What I was most impressed with was when he got out of pressure,” Fedora said.
While Eppler did spread the wealth, his favorite target was fellow junior
Tren’Davian Dickson who hauled in four touchdown catches. Dickson now has 34
touchdown receptions on the season, which breaks the previous state record of
touchdown receptions in a season. The previous record was 33 by Shayne Boyd of
New Deal in 1987.
Dickson finished the night with seven catches for 204 yards.
Dickson wasn’t the only Rattler player who was on the other end of an Eppler
touchdown pass, as three other receivers — LaMarquis Jefferson, Jerbrell Lipscomb
and Davon Jernigan — hauled in touchdowns.
The Rattler defense did yield the most points all season and allowed El Campo
running back Kevin Dove to rush for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Dove, who
came in with 1,851 yards on the season, was a load to bring down.
“Overall I though our guys did a great job,” Fedora said. “I thought our defense
played hard the whole time. That No. 30 [Dove] is a beast. When you tackle that
young man up high all he is going to do is carry you for another nine or 10 yards.”
The Rattlers scored the first two touchdowns of the game before the Ricebirds were
able to get on the board. Navasota answered quickly after the El Campo touchdown
to push its lead back to double-digits, and it never got under 11 the rest of the night.
Every time the Ricebirds found the end zone, the Rattlers had an answer, as they
matched El Campo score for score the rest of the night, dashing any thoughts the
Ricebirds had of upsetting Navasota.
Jefferson led the Rattlers in rushing finishing with 16 carries for 114 yards and a
NAVASOTA 54, EL CAMPO 36
EL CAMPO NAVASOTA
First Downs 20 13
Rushes/Yards 58/352 19-106
Passing Yards 29 377
Total Yards 381 483
PC-PA-PI 3-10-2 17-23-0
Punts/Avg 2/31.5 2/36.5
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 1/1
Penalties/Yards 5/26 1/5
EL CAMPO 0 14 7 15 — 36
NAVASOTA 12 21 7 14 — 54
N — Tren’Davian Dickson 80 pass from Shelton Eppler (Kick failed) 2 plays 75
N — LaMarquis Jefferson 6 pass from Eppler (pass failed) 4 plays 31 yards (2:57)
E — Alontae Harris 9 run (Cesar Rivera kick) 6 plays 69 yards (11:57)
N — Dickson 15 pass from Eppler (Dickson pass from Eppler) 9 plays 71 yards
N — Dickson 57 pass from Eppler (run failed) 1 play 57 yards (4:19)
E — Kevin Dove 1 run (Rivera kick) 9 plays 71 yards (1:09)
N — Davon Jernigan 12 pass from Eppler (Michel Martinez kick) 5 plays 49 yards
E — Adrian Alameda 15 pass from DJ Washington (Rivera kick) 8 plays 28 yards
N — Jefferson 7 run (Martinez kick) 6 plays 68 yards (4:19)
E — Dove 5 run (Rivera kick) 13 plays 64 yards (10:55)
N — Jerbrell Lipscomb 18 pass from Eppler (Martinez kick) 1 play 18 yards (10:38)
E — Washington 5 run (Dove run) 9 plays 71 yards (7:27)
N — Dickson 35 pass from Eppler (Martinez kick) 7 plays 70 yards (3:51)
Top passers: N: Eppler 17-23-377 7 TDs; E: Washington 3-10-29, 1 TD, 2 INT
Top receivers: N: Dickson 7-204 4 TDs; E: Almaeda 1-15 TD
Top rushers: N: Jefferson 16-114 TD; E: Dove 35-221 2 TDs