NICEVILLE – It was déjà vu all over again. For the second week in a row, Navarre's "Cardiac Corsairs" secured a win with a last-minute interception. On Sept. 14, Nick Benton’s pick at the Raiders’ goal line clinched the Raiders’ 25-24 win against then-10th-ranked Pace. Friday, Gatlin Casey ended the Niceville Eagles’ hopes when he fielded a tipped pass deep in Navarre territory with just 16 seconds left.
The Raiders ran out the clock on a 35-28 win and a victory in their first District 2-6A game of the season.
Navarre improved to 3-1 overall. Niceville, the defending district champion, is 2-2 and 0-1.
The teams took turns scoring in the first half and went into the locker room tied at 14. Quarterback Andrew Rieves scored on an 8-yard run and found Jordan Leggett in the back right corner of the end zone from 22 yards out in the third quarter to grab a 28-14 lead, but the Eagles scored twice before the period ended.
Both defenses stiffened in the fourth, but Johnny Robinson-Pettus gave the Raiders’ attack a lift with back-to-back runs of 15 and 57 yards midway through the final period. Pettus’ second carry – a bobbing, weaving, stiff-arming rope-a-dope beauty – gave Navarre first-and-goal at the Eagles’ 9-yard line. Jay Warren, who missed the game at Pace after suffering a thigh injury Sept. 7 at Pensacola, scored on the Raiders’ next play and Chandler Moorer kicked his fifth extra point to give Navarre a 35-28 lead with 4:14 to play.
Niceville fielded the Raiders’ third-straight failed “sky kick” at its own 40 and drove to the Raiders’ 14 before quarterback Ashton Hooker missed three passes and Navarre took over on downs with 1:22 to go.
The Eagles used its last two timeouts and Navarre obliged by failing to get a first down. Leggett punting from near his own end zone, booted the ball to the Raiders’ 43, where the Eagles took over with no timeouts and 16 seconds left.
Hooker found Tyre McCants open at about the 30, but his pass was a little high and McCants tipped the ball up and back over his head – right to Casey, who returned the ball to the Navarre 33.
Warren scored the Raiders’ first touchdown on a powerful 32-yard run through the middle of the Eagles’ defense, stiff-arming one defender, spinning off another and breaking the tackle of yet another as he stumbled into the end zone. Casey Navarre’s second score, extending fully to grab a 9-yard pass from Rieves and managing to touch his toes down in bounds before flying out of the left end zone.
The Raiders will play their fourth-straight road game Friday at Pensacola-Catholic.