By ROB LUDWIG / Special To The Corsicana Sun
— MIAMI, Ok — Knowing any loss the next three weeks would effectively knock his team from the postseason for the first time in years, Navarro College Coach Brian Mayper’s recurring message this week was simple.
You’ve got to play with a sense of urgency. Period.
The Bulldogs heard their coach loud and clear and played on Saturday like a team priming for the playoffs, not one clinging to postseason hopes.
Running back Ke’Aun Kinner rushed for 212 yards and four TDs and quarterback Carson Earp pitched in two TDs through the air as Navarro defeated Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 65-30 on Saturday.
Facing a must-win situation, the Bulldogs compiled 747 yards of offense and played well throughout the game defensively. The win improved Navarro to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in league play. NEO dropped to 2-5 and 0-3.
Navarro faces 6-1 Tyler Saturday at Tiger Stadium in a showdown of teams seeking one of four Southwest Junior College Football Conference playoff berths.
“I talked to them about it after Thursday’s practice and again on Friday at the walkthrough,” Mayper said. “For us to have a chance, we’ve got to win the rest of our games, starting with NEO. We talked about it all week.”
The talk apparently sunk in as the Bulldog offense rolled to a season-high in total offense and the much-maligned defense yielded 232 total yards, only 17 first downs and forced the Golden Norse into two of 14 on third-down situations.
“Our defense playing the way they did today made all the difference in the world,” Mayper said.
Navarro led 51-20 at the half after leaning heavily on a quick-strike offense and an opportunistic defense.
Kinner scored on runs of 10, 1, 60 and 14 yards in the first half as he nearly eclipsed the 200-yard barrier after only two periods.
Earp continued his sharp play from a week ago, completing 17 of 26 for 264 yards and touchdowns of 12 and 36 yards to Austin Collins and Jabryce Taylor, respectively, in the first half.
“We scored the first five times we had the football,” Mayper said. “We got a little complacent on offense in the third quarter, but overall, our offense performed at the level we need it to for us to be successful. We got some big plays from Collins, which is what we’ve been needing.”
Backup quarterback Bivins Caraway fired a 69-yarder to Taylor, who led all receivers with 173 yards on six catches. Collins, mired in amid-season slump, added seven catches for 126 yards.
Navarro added a 33-yard field goal from Carlos Macias and a 29-yard fumble return for a score from safety Kyron Minter in the third period.
Caraway added a 9-yard scoring pass to Josh Simmons early in the fourth period and finished 4 of 10 for 141 yards.
Sophomore Mikechell Potts gained a season-high 113 yards on 18 carries, mostly in the second half.
“We made some plays on offense and we forced some turnovers today,” Mayper said. “We haven’t been doing that, but against the teams we have left with the great offenses (Tyler and Blinn), we’ve got to force them into mistakes. If we can force turnovers and keep our mistakes down, we’re going to be in every game we play the rest of the season.”
Navarro 65, NEO 30
Navarro 28 13 10 14 — 65
NEO 14 6 3 7 — 30
NEO: Cameron Booty 52 run (Gabriel Rui kick)
N: Ke’Aun Kinner 10 run (Carlos Macias kick)
N: Austin Collins 12 pass from Carson Earp (Macias kick)
NEO: Josh Herman 3 pass from Devin White (Rui kick)
N: Kinner 1 run (Macias kick)
N: Jabryce Taylor 36 pass from Earp (Macias kick)
NEO: Gary McKnight 52 pass from Khalil Warren (kick failed)
N: Kinner 60 run (Macias kick), 13:51
N: Kinner 14 run (kick failed),
N: Carlos Macias 34 FG
N: Kyron Minter 29 fumble return (Macias kick)
NEO: Rui 36 FG
N: Josh Simmons 9 pass from Bivins Caraway (Macias kick)
NEO: Booty 2 run (Rui kick)
N: Taylor 69 pass from Caraway (Macias kick)
YARDSTICK N NEO
First Downs 32 17
Rush-yards 53-342 31-116
Passing yards 405 116
C-A-I 21-36-1 11-34-1
Fumbles-lost 3-1 4-0
Punts-avg. 5-33 8-24
Penalties 17-188 15-149
Rushing —N: Ke’Aun Kinner 25-212, Mikechell Potts 18-113, Earp 6-9, Caraway 4-8. NE: Booty 21-117, Devin White 6-14, Korie Robinson 1-1, Jesse Gregory 1-0, Zack Cater 2-(-16).
Passing — N: Earp 17-26-0-264, Caraway 4-10-1-141. NE: D.White 9-30-0-53, Warren 1-2-0-52, Cater 1-2-0-11.
Receiving — N: Taylor 8-183, Collins 7-139, Simmons 2-53, Del’Michael High 1-18, Edwin Mims 2-9. NEO: Warren 5-28, Gary McKnight 1-52, Jonathan Beasley 1-11, Brendon O’Steen 1-13, Booty 1-5, Herman 2-7.
SOUTHWEST JUNIOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL CONFERENCE SATURDAY:
Trinity Valley 42, Blinn 41
Tyler 47, Georgia Military 42
Kilgore 48, Cisco 14
Navarro 65, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M 30