After losing to Navarro for the sixth year in a row, the Tyler Junior College Apaches at least have history on their side for today’s game.
The Apaches have won 13 of the last 16 meetings against Trinity Valley, but the Cardinals are undefeated and ranked No. 9 in the nation. The kickoff is 7 p.m. Saturday on Earl Campbell Field at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
TJC (2-1) wants to avoid falling to 0-2 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, while Trinity Valley (3-0, 1-0) looks to continue the momentum from outscoring Kilgore 24-6 in the second half on Sept. 10.
The Cardinals opened league play with a 38-20 win over Kilgore at home and then had a bye last week. TJC had its bye heading into the Navarro game in Corsicana, where the Apaches lost 34-22 to the top-ranked Bulldogs after giving up touchdowns of 46, 52 and 60 yards.
“It also comes down to not being smart when the score is 27-22 and we called ‘punt safe’ and we did not execute it,” said TJC coach Danny Palmer, referring to a roughing-the-punter penalty with about two minutes to play in the game.
Navarro scored on a 60-yard run two plays later to clinch the victory.
“That’s a sad way to end the ballgame, but there’s still no guarantee that we will score,” Palmer said. “We just had a great opportunity.”
The teams combined for 475 yards passing last week, and today could be more of the same.
Former Auburn signee Tyrik Rollison played in his first college game last Saturday and threw two touchdown passes for the Apaches. The Sulphur Springs graduate passed for 138 yards and rushed for 37 more.
However, Palmer said he will continue to start Randy Price (Waco University) at quarterback. Price was 6 of 10 for 86 yards against Navarro before Rollison took over.
“He came out really strong and (then) started pressing a little bit,” Palmer said of Rollison. “He had some drops and we had some protection that broke down. He threw to the wrong side two or three times … that might be our fault because we were kind of hurrying him up.
“But he really brought another (dimension) to our football team. I didn’t know he could run like that. He ran for two or three first downs and ran over a guy one time.”
Palmer said both quarterbacks will play against Trinity Valley.
“I think (Price) still deserves to start,” Palmer said. “Because (Rollison) fell off a little at the end … I think he’s a little rusty.”
The Cardinals are led by former Allen standout Tucker Carter, who has eight touchdown passes and only one interception. The sophomore was 18 of 29 for 272 yards and four TDs against Kilgore.
SMOKE SIGNALS: Palmer said the Apaches will be without starting strong safety Justin Jones (Jacksonville), who is away on a personal matter. Marquez Franklin (Bullard) is expected to start in Jones’ place. … John Tyler graduate Duke Wheeler (illness), a defensive back, is expected to play today after missing the Navarro game.