Defending State Champion Navasota Pulls Away From Jasper, 35-21
CONROE -- Jasper may have found the blueprint to defeating Navasota, but the defending state champions still found a way to get past the Bulldogs, 35-21, Friday night at Moorhead Stadium in a Class 4A Division I area-round playoff.
Despite winning the time of possession battle and a 270-yard rushing performance from senior quarterback Tiger Williams, the Bulldogs (7-5) couldn't find a way to stop Navasota quarterback Shelton Eppler.
The senior finished the night 17 of 25 for 285 yards and four touchdown passes to four different receivers.
Leading 14-7, Navasota (12-0) forced Jasper into its first punt of the game with less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter.
The Rattlers needed only four plays to march into Bulldogs territory from their own 20-yard-line before Eppler connected with Baylor commit Tren'Davian Dickson from 19 yards out to give his team a 21-7 lead heading into halftime.
With the score, Dickson became the Texas high school all-time career touchdown receptions leader with 74.
"It's a great accomplishment," said Dickson, who hauled in six catches for 92 yards. "I'm just thankful for another win."
The Rattlers, who extended their winning streak to 28 games, built a 28-14 lead with 8:25 remaining in the third and looked well on their way to another to their third straight trip to the regional round.
But a 51-yard run by Williams to open the fourth quarter cut the lead to seven, as running back Decorian Holmes pushed Williams past several would-be tacklers before breaking through the secondary for his second rushing touchdown of the game.
Holmes finished with 19 carries for 59 yards.
Navasota fumbled on its first play of the next possession, and Jasper drove the ball deep into Rattlers territory. But on fourth-and-1, Holmes was stopped short of the first down line by Christon Jones.
Keyondrick Philio pushed the score to 35-21 on a 2-yard run with 5:48 remaining in the game, giving the Rattlers the final margin of victory.
"We gave them everything they wanted and then some," Jasper coach Darrell Barbay said. "We had them on the ropes with nine minutes left in the fourth, but we just didn't come up with the six inches we needed on that fourth down."
Jasper won the time of possession battle in the first half, holding the ball for 17 of the opening 24 minutes of play.
But it was Navasota that outgained the Bulldogs in the game, 404-385, despite running 45 plays to Jasper's 63. Williams finished the night 3 of 8 passing for 56 yards and a 36-yard touchdown pass to Cody Mitchell in the third quarter.
Deeldre Richardson, De'Von Jones and Tremayne Creeks also scored on touchdown receptions from Eppler.
"I loved the way Jasper played," Dickson said. "They never gave up and kept fighting. I love playing those types of teams. One of the toughest teams I've played in my three years on varsity."