Tyler Junior College's hopes for a conference title fell just like the rain.
The No. 3 seeded Navarro College Bulldogs scored the final 26 points of the contest to defeat the No. 2 seeded Apaches 29-10 in the semifinals of the Southwest Junior College Football Conference on a rain-soaked Earl Campbell Field at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium on Sunday.
Navarro (6-4) will host Kilgore College (6-4) next week in Corsicana for the SWJCFC championship. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. Kilgore, the fourth seed, upset No. 1 seed Trinity Valley 24-21 in overtime on Saturday.
TJC was hurt by miscues, including four fumbles lost, two blocked punts and a missed field goal as a deluge fell over the stadium. After winning seven of their first eight contests and reaching a ranking of No. 6 in the nation, the Apaches lost their final two ballgames to fall to 7-3.
Running back Josh Cleveland led the Bulldogs with 160 yards and three touchdowns on 26 attempts.
The two teams were tied 10-10 at halftime before the Bulldogs received the second half kickoff and scored on their first offensive play when Josh Cleveland scampered 77 yards up the middle to give Navarro a 17-10 lead with 14:39 left in the third quarter. That was close as the Apaches would get, despite having several scoring chances in Bulldog territory.
On Tyler's next possession Navarro blocked its second punt of the game, setting up the Bulldogs at the 26-yard line.
Just four plays later, Cleveland bulled in from the one for a touchdown with 7:43 to go in the third period. The big play on the drive was 23-yard pass from quarterback Devlin Isadore to Calvin Jones to place the ball at the one. The extra point attempt failed, but Navarro led 23-10.
Tyler tried to get back on track as Ken Burks rambled 44 yards on first down to move the Apaches to the Bulldog 22, but the Navarro defense stiffened and TJC missed a field goal attempt from 34 yards.
The Apaches took the ball into Navarro territory on the next possession, but had one of their four fumbles to stop the drive.
Navarro got on the scoreboard first in the opening quarter on 24-yard field goal by Patrick O'Brien with 8:23 on the clock.
Tyler would get on the scoreboard in the second quarter on a Luis Duran 34-yard field goal with 6:55 left before halftime to even the score at 3-3.
Apache defensive stalwart Somari Wright put the Apaches ahead when he intercepted a pass and returned it 26 yards for a TD. Duran's PAT up Tyler up 10-3 with 2:56 left in the half.
However, Navarro answered quickly. Isadore found Del'Michael High with a 73-yard scoring pass. O'Brien's extra point tied the game at 10-10 with 2:36 on the block.
Tyler was led offensively by Burks with 60 yards rushing on the soggy field. Michael Taylor had a fumble recovery for Tyler.
The 10 points was the lowest production by TJC since Oct. 2, 2010 when the Apaches scored only a field goal in a 21-3 loss at Cisco.
Navarro 29, Tyler 10
At Earl Campbell Field
Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium
Navarro 3 7 13 6 - 29
Tyler 0 10 0 0 - 10
NAV-Patrick O'Brien 24 FG, 8:23.
TJC-Luis Duran 34 FG, 6:55.
TJC-Somari Wright 26 interception return (Duran kick), 2:56.
NAV-Del'Michael High 73 pass from Devlin Isadore (O'Brien kick), 2:32.
NAV-Josh Cleveland 77 run (O'Brien kick), 14:39.
NAV-Cleveland 1 run (kick failed), 7:43.
NAV-Cleveland 9 run (pass failed), 8:28.
First Downs 15 18
Rushes-Yards 41-177 38-156
Passing Yards 224 154
Comp.-Att.-Int. 11-29-1 19-46-0
Punts-Avg. 7-35.60 7-42
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 5-4
Penalties-Yards 10-115 7-60
RUSHING-Navarro, Josh Cleveland 26-160, Marcus Anderson 3-11, Devlin Isadore 4-(-14), Maurice Gordon 7-19, Mon Evans 1-1. Tyler, Sederian Copeland 7-28, Ken Burks 10-60, Aron Dobbins 5-15, Hayden Cole 6-21, Kee Kee Johnson 1-0, Tevin Muse 4-33, Conner Heath 5-(-1).
PASSING-Navarro, Isadore 11-29-1 224. Tyler, Copeland 7-19-0 67, Heath 11-22-0 48, Muse 1-3-0 15.
RECEIVING-Navarro, Del'Michael High 5-133, Calvin Jones 3-34, Timothy Taylor 1-11, Dominique Harris 2-46. Tyler, Cole 3-38, Savon Rollison 7-42, CJ Thomas 2-22, Nathan Crouch 4-20, Burks 1-15, John Murray 2-17.