NAVARRE — Gatlin Casey scored on a 90-yard kickoff to open the second half and spark the Navarre High School football team to a 17-14 win over Crestview on Friday.
Defenses dominated the first half as each team gave up a big play that set up a touchdown.
The Bulldogs (1-3) got on the scoreboard first with 5:10 left in the first quarter when Emmanuel Reed scored from two yards out and Tyler Hancock added the extra point.
Reed’s touchdown was set up by a 57-yard run by Khalil Foster.
Midway through the second quarter Raider quarterback Matthew Webb hit Casey with a 5-yard scoring strike. Three plays earlier it had been Webb to Blake Malter for 32 yards to move the ball deep into Bulldog territory.
On their last possession of the first half the Bulldogs moved the ball from their own 18 to the Raider 24 at which point things started going backwards.
Facing a fourth and 20 from the Navarre 34 the Bulldogs attempted a 51-yard field goal that fell well short.
The Raiders (2-2) were unable to get into scoring territory as the half ended with the teams tied at 7-7.
Casey wasted no time in the second half in bringing the home fans at Bennett Russell Stadium to their feet as he took the kick up the middle and outran the Bulldog kick coverage to the end zone.
The respective defenses bent but wouldn’t break throughout the third quarter.
Crestview shanked a punt late in quarter to give the Raiders a first down in Bulldog territory.
Aided by a pass interference call against Crestview, Navarre took the ball to the Bulldog 6-yard line. Luke Morton then kicked what turned out to be the game-winning field goal from 23-yards out with 32 seconds left in the period.
Crestview rallied behind sophomore quarterback Corey Armstrong in the fourth quarter. Armstrong drove the Bulldogs to a touchdown drive thanks in part to a bit of good luck.
An Armstrong pass deflected off a Raider defender into the hands of Reed who raced 45 yards to the Navarre 20.
Four plays later Armstrong hit Demetrice Smith with a 6-yard touchdown pass. With 7:19 left in the game both teams had their chances, but neither could score.
Armstrong finished the night completing 8-of-14 passes for 89 yards and the touchdown in a little more than a quarter of work.
Foster was 4-of-10 passing for 27 yards. He also picked up 96 yards rushing on 13 carries and had one reception for eight yards.
Reed had 63 yards rushing and 45 yards on the one reception.
It looked as if Navarre had iced the game with about 3:30 left on 58-yard touchdown pass from Webb to Dylan Main. Main was ruled to have been covered at the line of scrimmage and an illegible receiver, which negated the score and the Raiders held on for the win.
The Bulldogs were playing without star defensive end Denzel Ware who was out with a dislocated elbow. Even without their leader the Bulldog defense swarmed to the ball and held the Raiders to 159 yards in total offense.
Navarre only had 71 yards in total offense in the second half.
Each of the four Bulldog games has been decided by less than a touchdown. The three losses have come by a combined nine points.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.