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Turnovers costly for Rattlers in loss

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  • Article Image Alt Text
    Examiner photo by Matthew Ybarra Navasota running back Darius Randle runs through a hole opened by lineman Alfredo Villasenor and Eberardo Alvarado on his way for a 9-yard touchdown run. Randle finished with 145 yards on 25 carries.
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Examiner photo by Matthew Ybarra Denerick Henderson and Jaquarian Williams combine to bring down a Jaguar ball carrier. Navasota’s season ended in the Area round with a 26-14 loss to Midlothian Heritage.

WACO — Navasota dominated Midlothian Heritage in all phases of the game except one. Losing the turnover battle ultimately cost the Rattlers a win as they committed three and fell to the Jaguars 26-14.

Midlothian advances to play Palestine, 2:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 29, at Panther Stadium in Waco. The Rattlers end their season with a 7-5 record including an undefeated District 12-4A championship and a 4A-1 Region 3 Bi-District championship.

Midlothian returned the opening-kick to the 50-yard line, but a holding call negated the return. Navasota’s defense made a statement early forcing a Jaguar punt.

The Rattlers marched 41-yards downfield on their first possession capped by a 9-yard score from Darius Randle. Randle took the handoff to the right side of the field following lead-blocker Mark Martinez through a hole opened by Alfredo Villasenor and Eberardo Alvarado. Miguel Alvarado converted on the point-after to give Navasota a 7-0 lead.

Navasota had its opportunities in the half to tack on to their lead, but none bigger than the break-away run by Randle who found a seam up the middle and raced for a 52-yard gain before being dragged down by Carter Wilson at the 9-yard line. Navasota was unable to punch it into the endzone and turned the ball over on downs.

Midlothian found the endzone in the third quarter as Hawaii commit, Jay Wilkerson, picked off a pass that sailed a little on Zack Dyer and returned it 57-yards for the score. The kick missed wide, leaving the Rattlers with a one-point lead.

The Jaguars first offensive score came on a huge run by Cullen Stone, good for 50-yards. Dailin Rader connected on the point-after to give Midlothian a 13-7 advantage.

Navasota answered in the fourth quarter on a great catch in the back of the endzone by Tavarus Baker for a 13-yard score. Alvarado completed the score tacking on the point-after to regain the lead.

Midlothian moved back in front with a drive that was capped by Stones second touchdown run, this one from 6-yards out. Stone finished the game with 80-yards rushing on 12 carries to go along with his two touchdowns.

Chances of a Rattler comeback came to a screeching halt as the Rattlers put the ball on the turf again and Konner Jones returned it for a 64-yard scoop and score.

“I’m proud of you. I love every one of you guys and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and neither would any of these other coaches, I promise you,” Navasota head coach Casey Dacus told his team after the heartbreaking loss.

Dacus continued, “Seniors, I don’t have the words right now to tell you how much I appreciate you for representing the blue and white the way that you have. You’ve done it the right way with integrity and class, and you played the right way tonight. You played your tails off and I’m proud of you for that. Remember once you walk off this field, once a Rattler always a Rattler and you’re always welcome back in our fieldhouse. I want to see you back around and I want you to go do great things because you are great men and your foundation is there. It’s up to you now to go spread your wings and do your thing.”

Navasota made strides in the offseason the get stronger and it showed in the running game as the Rattlers outgained the Jaguars 175-118 on the ground and 305-172 overall.

“We all sat in the weight room after this game last year and committed as a team to improve our strength because we got pushed around. We outgained them on the ground and we stopped the run with a light box to prevent them from passing in this game,” explained Dacus. “Now it’s up to these young guys to step up and commit to doing the same thing to give us a chance.”