NAVASOTA — The Navasota Rattlers fell to the Yoakum Bulldogs 28-20 in the teams’ final nondistrict football game of the season on Homecoming at Rattler Stadium on Friday.
The matchup between the two teams became a ground battle as almost all offensive yardage from both sides came on rushes. Navasota’s 333 yards on the ground far outweighed its 84 in the air, and Yoakum threw for only 28 yards while running for 364. Each side saw three players rush for over 50 yards.
Navasota senior quarterback Ja’mar Jessie had a career showing, recording 279 yards of total offense including 195 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Running back Kaddon Hubbard also made a statement for the Rattlers (2-3), turning his one carry into a 73-yard TD run.
“Tonight was a really good night for us,” Navasota head coach Casey Dacus said. “It was a tough environment against a tough team, but we’re making some progress. After we clean some things up, we’re going to be right where we want to be.”
Yoakum (4-1) started strong, forcing a three-and-out on Navasota’s first possession before senior linebacker Tre Robbins blocked and recovered the punt. The Bulldogs then needed just a 4-yard run from junior running back Jayden Jones to take the lead. Senior kicker Christopher Chavez’s extra point gave Yoakum a 7-0 lead.
Navasota quickly shifted the momentum in its favor, scoring twice before the end of the first quarter. The first touchdown came on a 25-yard run by Jessie, capping a string of six runs. Jessie accounted for five of the carries, totalling 67 yards on the ground in the possession. After forcing a turnover on downs, Navasota ran just one more play to take the lead as Hubbard’s 73-yard breakaway put the Rattlers up 14-0 with both extra points by sophomore kicker Juan Vargas.
“Teams like Yoakum like to plus-one you in the box, so we felt like our best chance was to run the ball by moving the backs out of the box,” Dacus said of his decision to give Jessie nearly 75% of the team’s carries. “Tonight definitely favored [Jessie], and I’m really proud of him.”
Yoakum tied the score at 14 on the next possession with Jones scoring on a 66-yard run.
The Bulldogs then used two interceptions by sophomore defensive back Qyion Williams to take the lead for good. After the second, Yoakum drove for the go-ahead score as Jones put the Bulldogs ahead 21-14 with a 4-yard TD run just 2:45 before halftime.
Jessie scored his second touchdown of the night on Navasota’s final possession of the first half, using an 11-yard run up the middle to finish off a 58-yard drive, but the Rattlers missed the extra point with 59 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs almost widened the gap with a quick drive before halftime, but the Rattlers blocked their field goal attempt as time expired.
“They were killing us early with a lead option, so we just bumped some linebackers and made a couple of changes inside with our front,” Dacus said of the team’s adjustments in the third quarter. “That’s really all we did differently. But I will say that we played, in my opinion, harder in the second than the first half.”
Both offenses struggled in the second half. Smith gave Yoakum some cushion with a 2-yard TD run on a quarterback keeper with 9:16 left in the third quarter, but otherwise both defenses dominated the rest of the way.
Both teams will have a bye week before returning to action Oct. 8. Navasota will host the Smithville Tigers, and Yoakum will travel to Boling. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. for both games.
“We loaded up the predistrict schedule, and the truth is we just wanted to challenge ourselves,” Dacus said. “We wanted to find out what we are. Going into district, we feel really good about where we’re at. I have great optimism moving forward, and I’m excited about going to work in district.”
NOTES — Yoakum head football coach Bo Robinson is originally from Bremond and played for the Texas Longhorns from 1989-92.