MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Seventh-ranked Navarro unleashed a stifling defense and smothered eighth-ranked Georgia Military, 23-7, Thursday in the NJCAA football season-opener for both clubs.
Navarro’s impressive defensive unit shut down GMC on just eight first downs and limited the home team to 138 yards offense. NC’s unit frustrated GMC’s offense by forcing eight three-and-out possessions during the contest, including five successive to start it. Virtually incapacitated, GMC managed to run only 53 offensive plays — and only six snaps originated inside Navarro territory. During the final two minutes GMC averted a shutout by driving 54 yards of their 138 total.
NC’s defense, with an assist from special teams, further dictated field position. Sophomore team-leading interceptor last year, Benjie Franklin, picked off two Garrel Quainton passes and broke up several others. Freshman Trevor Denbow avoided dangerous return man Major Bellamy and placed five of seven punts inside the GMC 20-yard line, including two inside the 10. And, Navarro capitalized on a pair of rare GMC special-teams miscues with partial blocks of Yaroslav Shirling’s mishandled punting attempts — one of which set up a first-half touchdown.
Coach Cody Crill’s Bulldogs, winners of 12 of the last 13 meetings with GMC since 2004, used 11 kick-scoring points from Canadian sophomore Benigno Heredia, plus Mori Evans’ touchdown plunge and a 10-yard passing score from quarterback Harry Woodberry to Conroe Oak Ridge freshman Kyle Townsend.
Navarro’s Air Raid offense mustered 375 yards from 86 offensive snaps.
Left-footed Heredia, now with 13-of-15 field goals in 9 career games here, hit from 26, 30 and 22 yards and added both conversion kicks.
Evans made a successful dive over the goalline as the Bulldogs converted one of the punt-blocks into a second-period touchdown and 13-0 halftime lead.
NC marched the second-half kickoff 72 yards in nine plays to increase the lead to 20-0. Woodberry threw 13 to DeAndre Cook, 21 to Matt Reyna and 29 to Warren Flye, who made a spectacular one-handed catch along the sideline to push the drive to the GMC 16. From there, Woodberry shoveled to Townsend for six and followed up with the 10-yard scoring fade to the wide right side of the field.
Navarro hosts No. 4 ranked Trinity Valley in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference opener for both clubs at 7 pm Saturday, Sept. 2, at Tiger Stadium.