By MIKE MONTFORT (Photography by Keith Speer) —
They couldn’t get it started. They turned the key, and the ignition wouldn’t fire. Perfect timing to watch Navarro football and its three-game winning streak to sit stranded and stalled — during a homecoming game against an opponent it’s beaten 7 of the last 8 meetings and 10 of the last 12.
The last three times, it had been so easy to press pedal to the metal floorboard and cruise beyond 60, leaving treadmark and a cloud of dust without a thought or care.
Coach Ryan Held’s Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Golden Norsemen — looking for their first win in Corsicana since 2003 — raced to an unthinkable, unbelievable 34-3 lead with 9:18 left in the second quarter.
Homecoming appeared housewrecked. More than one member of social parties searched cellphones for messages that would allow them to legitimize an early exit from the premises.
Many gave up — except for the Navarro Bulldogs.
Cody Crill’s club calmly, methodically and miraculously marched their way back into the ballgame from a 31-point deficit to win by fashioning a comeback unmatched in NC history — one that parallels some of the greatest NCAA football rallies.
From 9:18 of the second period, Navarro outscored the Golden Norse 43-7. After a scoreless third quarter, the Bulldogs saw that same 34-19 halftime deficit. But during the game’s final 13:54, the Bulldogs exploded for 27 points.
It wasn’t that easy, though. In the process, the Bulldogs missed on a couple of golden scoring opportunities, and struggled through a choppy rhythm caused by 14 penalties. Nevertheless, the NJCAA’s second most-penalized team this season kept plugging away.
Defensive back Robert Satterwhite turned away one third-period NEO scoring threat by stepping in front of a receiver to intercept Mack Waldman’s pass the Navarro 1 yard line. The Norse had marched 62 yards in nine plays to NC’s 25 when the Austin freshman made his third pick of the season.
The Bulldogs countered with a drive to the NEO 6, but placekicker Patrick O’Brien’s attempted 23-yard field goal was wide.
Angelo State transfer quarterback Devlin Isadore from Aldine Eisenhower, making his second consecutive start after injury to starter Bivins Caraway, got the job done.
Isadore accounted for 445 yards offense by completing 32-of-55 passes for 426 yards and 5 touchdowns, and rushing 10 times for 19 yards — including a 10-yard scoring burst.
Isadore’s rushing touchdown at 13:54 started the fourth-quarter scoring and pulled Navarro within eight (34-26).
With 7:26 left, Isadore found Calvin Jones, Jr., who made a pair of nice moves on defenders to complete an 18-yard scoring pass play. Josh Cleveland’s attempted game-tying, two-point conversion run was ruled a fumble and recovered by NEO at the goalline.
NEO extended its 34-32 lead in three plays — two backbreakers applied by Golden Norsemen rushing leader Cameron Booty (16-104-3). Booty threw a 52-yard halfback pass to Shannon Smith to the Navarro 31. On the next play, Booty barreled off right guard untouched for a touchdown that produced a 41-32 lead with 5:43 left.
Isadore found Del’Michael High on a 44-yard slant to the NEO 5. Three players later, Cleveland caught Isadore’s swing pass and raced 5 yards for a score that lifted NC within two again (41-39).
Following a touchback, NEO went three-and-out, spending its final timeout at 2:51. NC then called its final timeout at 2:39 before Cole Moos’ 29-yard punt.
Isadore dumped a short pass to Cleveland, who used his 4.4 speed on a straight 62-yard dash to the end zone to hoist the Bulldogs into their first lead of the day.
NEO reached Navarro’s 42 with 1:20 left, but JD Copeland and Dexter Collins sacked Waldman on a fourth-down play at the 48 to end it.
Isadore kneeled, with double meaning: (1), to end the game; and (2), to symbolically represent a thankful feeling all Bulldogs had after the 46-41 win.
LARGEST NCAA FOOTBALL COMEBACKS
1. 35 points by Nevada for 55-49 win over Weber State, Nov., 2, 1990
2. 35 points by Michigan State for 41-38 win over Northwestern, Oct. 21, 2006
3. 31 points by Ohio State for 41-37 win over Minnesota, Oct. 28, 1989.
SWJCFC SCORES SATURDAY:
Tyler 35, Georgia Military 7 (Non-Conference)
Cisco 20, Kilgore 12
TVCC 36, Blinn 28
Navarro 46, NEO 41
NEXT GAME: Navarro at Tyler, 7 pm Thursday, Trinity Mother Frances-Rose Stadium, Tyler
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
NEO 24 10 0 7 – 41
Navarro 3 16 0 27 – 46
NEO – Cameron Booty, 2-run. (Gabriel Rui kick). 12:08, 1Q
NEO – Gary McKnight, 10-pass from Mack Waldman. (Rui kick). 10:09, 1Q
NEO – Rui, 34-FG. 6:20, 1Q
NC – Patrick O’Brien, 25-FG. 3:43, 1Q
NEO — Cameron Booty, 14-run. (Rui kick). 2:48, 1Q
NEO — Jesse Gregory, 83-pass from Mack Waldman. (Rui kick). 13:56, 2Q
NEO — Rui, 31-FG. 9:18, 2Q
NC — Taylor Thompson, 12-pass from Devlin Isadore. (pass failed). 5:59, 2Q
NC — Kijana Amous, 16-pass from Isadore. (O’Brien kick). 4:43, 2Q
NC — O’Brien, 38-FG 0:52, 2Q
NC — Isadore, 10-run. (O’Brien kick) 13:54, 4Q
NC — Calvin Jones, 18-pass from Isadore. (Run failed) 7:26, 4Q
NEO — Cameron Booty, 31 run. (Rui kick). 5:45, 4Q
NC — Josh Cleveland, 5-pass from Isadore. (O’Brien kick). 4:28, 4Q
NC — Cleveland, 62-pass from Isadore. (O’Brien kick). 2:23, 4Q
YARDSTICK NEO NC
First Downs 20 25
Rushes-Yards 43-187 47-137
Passing Yards 269 454
Passes (C-A-I) 19-38-1 33-56-1
Total Offense 456 591
Punting 6-38 5-35
Fumbles 3-5 0-2
Penalties 19-149 14-98
RUSHING: NC — Josh Cleveland 15-66; Kijana Amous 10-52; Marcus Anderson 2-0; Devlin Isadore 10-19-1. NEO — Cameron Booty 16-104-3; Jesse Gregory 11-35; Willie Jordan 9-35; Mack Waldman 7-13.
PASSING: NC — Devlin Isadore 32-55-426-5-1; Calvin Jones 11-1-28-0-0. NEO — Mack Waldman 18-37-216-2-1. Cameron Booty 1-1-52-0-0.
RECEIVING: NC — Josh Cleveland 7-85-2; Del’Michael High 6-93-0; Calvin Jones 5-54-1; Kijana Amous 4-51-1; Dominique Harris 4-66-0; Taylor Thompson 2-20-1. NEO — Shannon Smith 4-116-0; Gary McKnight 6-87-1; Stephan Robinson 4-32; Jesse Gregory 1-83-1; Khalil Warren 1-10-0; Mike’Quan Deane 1-7-0; Chase Nevel 1-7-0.