CORSICANA – Two things tend to happen when the Apaches travel to Navarro. Their defense gives up a ton of big plays and too many points.
The top-ranked Bulldogs scored on plays of 46, 52 and 60 yards to beat Tyler Junior College, 34-22, Saturday night in a Southwest Junior College Football Conference opener at Tiger Stadium.
Navarro (3-0, 1-0 SWJCFC) defeated the Apaches for the sixth straight time, but this one was much closer than the previous two trips.
TJC (2-1, 0-1) was getting ready to get the ball back with about two minutes to work with and trailing by only five. However, a roughing-the-punter penalty on Jacoby Alexander extended Navarro’s possession and, two plays later, Tyler Middleton scored on a 60-yard run with 1:26 remaining to seal the win for Navarro.
Middleton, the third-string running back pressed into duty when the top two runners were removed from the team, opened the scoring with a 46-yard run and led the Bulldogs with 142 yards on 12 carries.
Navarro totaled 204 yards on the ground to just 86 for the Apaches. The teams were pretty equal through the air and in penalties – a combined 30 flags for 242 yards.
The Apaches pulled within 27-22 when Tyrik Rollison found Randall Weeks over the middle for a 17-yard touchdown with seven minutes to play. The TD came one play after a Navarro punt was partially blocked and traveled only seven yards.
Rollison, the former Auburn signee who finally made his collegiate debut, finished 12 of 32 for 138 yards and two touchdowns. The former Sulphur Springs star completed nine of his first 10 throws for 106 yards against Navarro, but did not fare as well in the second half after strong winds arrived.
Rollison entered the game with 14 minutes to play in the second quarter, but handed off on his first three plays inside the Navarro 10-yard line. The 11-play drive resulted in Isaac Arellano’s 25-yard field goal to bring the Apaches within 13-9.
After a Navarro receiver dropped a second would-be touchdown, Rollison marched the Apaches 71 yards in seven plays for a score. Rollison completed all four of his passes and zinged a 20-yard strike to Tracy Smith in the end zone to give TJC its only lead of the game, 15-13, with 7:06 left until halftime. The extra point was blocked.
Navarro took the ensuing kickoff and marched 78 yards in seven plays to regain the advantage at 20-15. Quarterback Adrian Nelson was 4 of 4 on the drive and completed an 11-yard fade pass to Marquez Clark, who hauled in nine catches for 166 yards in the game.
The left-handed Nelson, who started in last year’s national championship game, completed 19 of 35 for 251 yards and two TDs against the Apaches.
No. 1 Navarro 34, Tyler 22
At Tiger Stadium, Corsicana
Tyler 6 9 0 7 -- 22
Navarro 13 7 0 14 -- 34
NC—Tyler Middleton 46 run (kick blocked), 9:39.
TJC—Billy Thompkins 25 interception return (pass failed), 8:29.
NC—Marquez Clark 52 pass from Adrian Nelson (Trevor Pinkston kick), 1:54.
TJC—FG Isaac Arellano 25, 12:30.
TJC—Tracy Smith 20 pass from Tyrik Rollison (kick blocked), 7:06.
NC—Clark 11 pass from Nelson (Pinkston kick), 3:05.
NC—DeMarcus Jackson 2 run (Pinkston kick), 13:04.
TJC—Randall Weeks 17 pass from Rollison (Arellano kick), 7:11.
NC—Middleton 60 run (Pinkston kick), 1:26.
EST. ATT. – 2,000.
First Downs 20 18
Rushes-Yards 36-86 35-204
Passing Yards 224 251
Comp.-Att.-Int. 18-42-1 19-35-1
Punts-Avg. 6-48.5 7-33.9
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-Yards 12-120 18-122
RUSHING—Tyler, Ryan Young 15-42, Tyrik Rollison 11-37, Randy Price 1-5, Ridge Wilson 2-3, Rodney Hall 3-1, Team 2-2. Myles Kanipes 2-(minus 4). Navarro, Tyler Middleton 12-142, DeMarcus Jackson 8-39, Julian Young 11-29, Marquez Clark 1-14, Adrian Nelson 3-(minus 20).
PASSING—Tyler, Rollison 12-32-1—138, Price 6-10-0--86. Navarro, Nelson 19-35-1--251 .
RECEIVING—Tyler, Jalen Claiborne 4-44, Tracy Smith 3-54, Antonio Anderson 3-51, Marquis Smith 2-24, Maxwell Brown 2-15, Kanipes 2-12, Randall Weeks 1-17, Young 1-7. Navarro, Clark 9-166, Gerard Shillow 5-36, Robert Primes 1-24, Sammy Flowers 1-16, Eddie Johnson 1-4, Johnny Haynes 1-4, Young 1-1.