Fans of defensive football left R.E St. John Memorial Stadium disappointed here Saturday.
The Navarro Bulldogs left with an improbable win.
Navarro scored 34 straight points in the second half, rallying from 18 points down on a couple of occasions and holding on for a 47-43 win over the No. 10-ranked Kilgore College Rangers in Southwest Junior College Football Conference action.
KC drops to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the SWJCFC with its second straight loss. Navarro picks up its first conference win, moving to 2-3 and 1-3.
Kilgore College built a 28-10 lead later in the first half and led 28-13 at halftime. The Rangers scored early in the third to again go on top by 18 (35-13), but the Bulldogs stormed back to go in front 47-35 with 5:25 to play. KC scored and converted for two points with 3.9 seconds left, but an unsuccessful onside kick allowed the visitors to kneel out the clock.
The teams combined for 1,209 total yards and 90 points. The Rangers had 329 yards rushing and passing, while Navarro finished with 179 yards on the ground and 372 yards through the air.
Kilgore College's Clifton McDowell carried 16 times for 198 yards and four touchdowns and completed 21 of 38 passes for 329 yards and a couple of scores. Marques Pearson caught 10 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Navarro quarterback Qua Gray completed 28 of 52 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns. Isaiah Robinson rushed for 97 yards and a TD. Jeremiah Aaron had eight catches for 107 yards and a TD, and Quentin Lee hauled in seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Navarro kicker Alexis Lopez booted field goals of 21, 38, 40 and 24 yards, with his 21-yarder giving the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead after a 20-play, 69-yard drive to open the game.
KC answered two minutes later with a 22-yard touchdown pass from McDowell to Pearson, and later went on top 14-3 with an 8-yard run by McDowell.
A 47-yard TD pass from Gray to Aaron pulled the Bulldogs to within four points at 14-10 with 10:15 left in the second quarter, but KC got a 5-yard TD run by McDowell and a 57-yard touchdown pass from McDowell to Pearson to push the KC lead to 28-10.
A 38-yard field goal by Lopez made it 28-13 at the half, but McDowell struck again with a 1-yard run to open the third period. That came after KC had been pinned down at its own 10 before McDowell broke of fa 75-yard run to set up the TD.
Then, Navarro woke up in a big way.
A 1-yard run by Robinson with 10:08 left in the third was followed by a 40-yard field goal from Lopez and an 80-yard touchdown pass from Gray to Louis Moore to pull the Bulldogs to within five points, 35-30, late in the third.
Lopez booted a 24-yard field goal at the 11:08 mark of the fourth to make it a two-point game (35-33), and three minutes later Gray hit Lee from 39 yards out to give Navarro its first lead (40-35) since early in the first quarter.
An Elijah Hines 34-yard TD run at the 5:25 mark put Navarro on top 47-35. KC cut the deficit with a 6-yard run by McDowell and 2-point pass from McDowell to Aldyn Bradley with 3.9 seconds remaining, but it was too little, too late.
KC will visit Cisco next week, while Navarro takes on Blinn in Midlothian.
Jack Stallard is the sports editor of the Longview News-Journal, a member, along with the News Herald, of M. Roberts Media.