STORY BY TIM SCHNETTLER
NAVASOTA, Texas — Big first halves are becoming the norm for the Navasota Rattler football team and Friday night was no different.
The Rattlers (4-0) scored on six of their seven possessions in the first 24 minutes of play en route to a 49-10 thumping of the Rogers Heritage War Eagles (1-2) on Homecoming night at Rattler Stadium.
“I thought we came out on fire,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said. “We were uncertain what we were going to see but our kids came out and we struck early and we struck often and our defense played well.”
The War Eagles, who made the 540 mile trip from Rogers, Arkansas, may have been larger in size and may have had more players on their roster, but they were not able to overcome the Rattlers’ advantage in the speed department.
“The difference in the game was their speed, we just couldn’t run with them,” Heritage head coach Perry Escalante said. “We had some miscommunications in the secondary and we couldn’t cover anybody. Just simple quick outs and they took off to the races.
“You can’t play like that and beat anybody. Their speed was the difference in the game and we just couldn’t match up with that.”
Quarterback Shelton Eppler, who came into the game with 15 touchdown passes in the first three games of the season, added four more to his total, all in the first half, finishing the night 18-of-31 for 244 yards and one interception.
Running back Derrion Randle, who had a modest 315 yards on 46 carries in the Rattlers’ first three games, broke out in a big way, chewing up 184 yards on 10 carries, Randle scored on runs of 80- and 47-yards in the first half and also scored on a 19-yard screen pass.
“We thought he did a great job running the ball,” Fedora said. “He is going to be physical and he is going to be hard to take down.”
Heritage had several chances to score in the first half, making several ventures into Rattler territory, but only coming away with three points on a 42-yard field from Eric Grom, on its first drive of the game.
The other times the Eagles made it into Rattler territory, the drives were undone by a big play from the Navasota defense, a fumble that was recovered by the Rattlers and a missed field goal.
Heritage did find the end zone on its first drive of the second half. As they had in the first half, the War Eagles moved the ball into Navasota territory using their run game. This time, however, the War Eagles cashed in when Joey Saucier took a handoff and raced down the right sideline for a 49-yard score.
Saucier finished the night with 128 yards on 18 carries, as the War Eagles rushed for 269 yards on the night.
It didn’t take long for the Rattlers to answer Saucier’s score when Davon Jernigan took his only snap of the night from the quarterback position, called his own number and raced 72-yards for the final points of the night.
Navasota will travel to Ft. Worth next week to take on the Ft. Worth Castleberry Lions, while Heritage will be on the road to face Springdale.