Temperatures at Merrill Green Stadium may have felt like the Ice Bowl, but the
ending was enough to make many forget about numb noses. With just ten seconds
remaining on the game clock, Navarro College made one final plunge into the end
zone to defeat Hinds Community College and take home the Brazos Valley Bowl
“As soon as coach called 25, I knew it was going to be for the whole game,” said
Navarro running back Tim Wright, who made the final score. “I just had to execute
it. The guys were all fired up, and I knew if they got me the block, I was going to
Facing game time temperatures near 30 degrees and wind chills as low as 26, the
Navarro Bulldogs (9-3) warmed their hands with the Brazos Valley Bowl trophy by
upending the Hinds Eagles (7-3) by a score of 34-27 in the annual NJCAA bowl game.
“The cold really affected us as a team. I looked around at our guys in the third
quarter and we’re huddled around the bench in jackets. At that point I knew I had to
get us fired up,” Navarro head coach Brian Mayper said. “I told the guys you need to
jump up and down. Believe we’re going to win this. And all of the sudden you saw a
major swing. It was a big difference.”
With winds blustering out of the north end zone at the stadium, both teams stuck to
a heavy ground attack, with the Bulldogs racking up 272 rushing yards and the Eagles gaining 179. Navarro was led by Wright, who picked up 246 yards and four touchdowns on 35
carries, while Hinds CC was led by dual-threat quarterback
James Summers who picked up 113 yards on 26 carries.
Navarro went up on the board first on a 19-yard field goal by kicker Carlos Macias
with 6:34 left in the first quarter. Hinds Community College responded on the next
drive, capping a six-play drive with a 20-yard touchdown fade pass into the corner
of the end zone from Summers to receiver De’Andrea Harris, putting the Eagles up
7-3 with 3:38 left in the first.
Navarro found the end zone for the first time in the second quarter, as Wright found
a hole on the left side of the line and scrambled 19-yards to give the Bulldogs the 10-
7 lead with 7:55 before halftime. The defenses for both teams stepped up and cold
hands set in, as passes deflected off receivers’ hands and running backs struggled to
find open holes.
Hinds Community College took advantage of the wind to its back in the second
quarter, tacking on two field goals by kicker Joseph Houston of 33 yards and 41
yards respectively before heading into the locker room and halftime with the 13-10
“Hinds is a great football team. I could tell on film how good they are,” Mayper said.
“I knew they were going to be physical. And really an outstanding defensive team.”
Hinds showed that defensive strength by holding Navarro out of the end zone for
the first portion of the third quarter. And right out of the locker room, the Eagles
pushed their lead further on a 10-yard dash by running back Darryan Ragsdale,
increasing the gap to 20-10 with 10:24 left on the clock.
Navarro would get back on the board on the next possession with a 37-yard
field goal by Macias, narrowing Hinds CC’s lead to just seven with 8:21 remaining.
Three plays later, the Eagles were back on the board and seemingly cruising to a
victory after a 56-yard connection from Summers to receiver Keithon Redding with
6:43 left in the third, upping Hinds’ lead to 27-13.
But the Bulldogs hadn’t given up yet.
“It was tough, but we just kept on driving and driving and driving and making plays.
It’s what we had to do,” Mayper said. “And all that conditioning and hard work paid
off for us.”
On the next possession, Navarro marched down the field and--immediately following
a long 33-yard dash by Wright--jumped back into the game on a two-yard dive by
Wright for a touchdown with 5:24 in the third quarter, moving the score to 27-20.
On Hinds’ next possession the Eagles were held to a three-and-out, and forced to
punt the ball after a huge sack by the Bulldogs’ Marquis Anderson. Navarro took
advantage of the opportunity seven plays later, as Wright cruised into the end zone
on a 6-yard score to tie the game up 27-27 with 1:15 in the third.
“My teammates really kept me fired up,” Wright said. “We put up our shields and
just really brought it to them.”
As the fourth quarter set in, and the clock ticked down, it became evident the last
team to score was going to win the game. Navarro fumbled the ball twice, including
on the one-yard line by Wright, which were both recovered by Hinds. Hinds was
held to another three-and-out situation on one possession, and forced to punt again
on another possession.
Navarro got the ball with roughly three minutes left in the game, on what appeared
to be the final drive for either team. Facing a fourth and ten situation with just 0:44
on the clock, Mayper decided to go for it. And it worked. Bulldogs quarterback Josh
Greer completed a 14-yard pass to Alex Allen to keep the drive alive and put
Navarro potentially within field goal range.
“Really the play we called was the only play we’ve had success with all year,”
Mayper said. “And truth be told, last year that was probably our worst play. But
now it’s the play we go to all the time. It’s the only one we knew we had.”
The Bulldogs moved the ball to the 10-yard line with just 16 seconds on the clock. On a
second down play, Wright got the call. He took the ball to the left sideline, and with
Hinds CC’s Kenya Dennis grabbing onto Wright’s heel at the four-yard line and
linebacker Christopher Harthone closing in for a tackle, Wright dove, barely getting
the tip of the ball across to secure the victory with 10 seconds on the clock.
“The plan was to run the 25 to the left, and then run inside to set up the field goal for
Carlos,” Mayper said. “But I said to Tim, let’s just win this right here on this play.”
Navarro finished the Brazos Valley Bowl with 451 yards of total offense, while Hinds
racked up 305. Wright finished the day as the game’s top offensive performer, while
the Bulldog’s Greer added another 179 yards through the air, and Hinds’ Summers
produced 239 all-purpose yards for the Eagles.
Navarro’s Wright was named the offensive MVP for the bowl game, while Hinds’
Harthone was named the defensive MVP with 11 total tackles, including 10 unassisted.