After 34 combined penalties, several turnovers and an unorthodox touchdown in the fourth quarter, KC upset eighth-ranked Navarro, 45-35, Saturday night at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium.
This game marked the third straight week KC has knocked off a team ranked higher in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll and the first time since 2007 KC has beaten Navarro.
Navarro’s first and only lead of the second half came on the first drive of the fourth quarter.
Navarro running back Traylon Shead began a play up the gut and was stopped momentarily before he muscled his way outside en route to a 42-yard touchdown and a 35-30 Navarro lead.
Later in the fourth, KC forced a fumble on a punt return and recovered at the 4-yard line. The drive stalled, forcing the Rangers to settle for a field goal attempt that was blocked by Navarro. KC receiver Joe Herrick scooped up the loose ball and raced 25 yards for a touchdown to put the Rangers on top 38-35.
“Well, it’s funny when you look at that because that’s kind of a tale of two sides,” said head coach J.J. Eckert. “I mean you look at the actual kick and it got blocked and Navarro is obviously excited as a result of that. Then you look up and you see a guy go for the football on the far hash and Joey takes off running by himself to the end zone.”
With three minutes left in the game, KC cornerback James Jones picked off Navarro quarterback Darian Godfrey and took it in for the 49-yard “pick six” to put the final dagger in the visiting Bulldogs. That put KC on top, 45-35.
The Rangers got an early break when Navarro fumbled the opening kickoff and Dorian Loft came up with the recovery.
It set KC up for its first score of the night, a perfect fade pass into the end zone from Tanner Tausch to Ed’Marques Batties for the touchdown.
Tausch threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns in the game, connecting with Batties for 98 yards and a pair of scores.
Navarro stuck to its running game early, and Tyler Middleton got the Bulldogs on the board in the first quarter with a 24-yard run that tied the game at 7-7.
KC kicker Yovany Arvizu nailed a field goal attempt for a 10-7 lead in the first quarter, but early in the second Navarro’s Shead scored a pair of rushing touchdowns. Shead, a transfer from the University of Texas, scored four rushing touchdowns that night.
Tausch was the answer offensively for the Rangers, throwing touchdown passes to Batties and Herrick in the second quarter as KC built a 24-21 halftime lead.
No. 6 ranked KC (4-0, 2-0) will visit Cisco on Saturday for a 3 p.m. contest – the first of three straight road games for the Rangers.