BRENHAM – The most anticipated game of the season certainly didn’t disappoint, as the No. 2 ranked Blinn Buccaneers upset the top-ranked Navarro Bulldogs 31-26 before 2,243 fans at “Blue Out” Night at Cub Stadium.
The win by the Bucs (5-0, 2-0) is the third in the last five meetings between the two perennial powerhouses. The two teams have won three of the last five NJCAA national championships, with the Bucs taking home the title in 2006 and 2009. The attendance was the largest ever for Blinn at Cub Stadium.
The Bucs’ defense set the tone early, forcing the Bulldogs to punt on their first two possessions of the game. After a punt on their first possession, the Bucs’ offense would cap an 80 yard drive on a two-yard touchdown keeper by freshman quarterback Eric Matthews (Brookshire Royal) to take a 7-0 lead at the 1:12 mark in the first.
In the second quarter, Navarro would kick a 26 yard field goal to make the score 7-3 with 11:32 to play in the half. Blinn quickly drove the length of the field, but the Bucs would miss a chance at a short field goal on a botched snap. Navarro would then score on their next possession on a one-yard keeper by quarterback Adrian Nelson to give the Bulldogs a 10-7 lead with 4:32 left in the quarter. The Bucs would then re-take the lead on a 51 yard screen pass from Matthews to sophomore running back Marion Grice (Aldine Nimitz) with 1:27 remaining in the half. Navarro would threaten again, but freshman safety Tevin Broussard (Beaumont Central) intercepted a Nelson pass to keep the score 14-10 at half.
In the third, Blinn would strike right away after a 62 yard run by Matthews and a one yard touchdown run by Grice, giving the Bucs a 21-10 lead at the 13:57 mark. After forcing the Bulldogs to punt on their next possession, Grice would fumble, giving Navarro the ball back on their own 33. A quick drive would lead to another field goal, closing the gap to 21-13 with 6:30 left in the third. The Bucs offense would strike again quickly on a 66 yard touchdown bomb from Matthews to freshman receiver Saqwan Edwards (Manvel) to stretch the lead to 28-13. The Bucs’ defense would step up again when freshman linebacker Brandon Thornton (Conroe) would recover a fumble by the Bulldogs to close out the quarter.
After the Bucs were forced to punt on their first possession of the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs drove the length of the field only to have a field goal attempt blocked by the Buccaneers’ special teams. The Bucs would add a 33 yard field goal by freshman Kurt Walker (Hebron) to give them a 31-19 lead with 7:30 left in the game. It would only take less than a minute for the Bulldogs to strike again, capping off a 58 yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run to close the score to 31-26 with 6:40 remaining. After the offense stalled, the Bucs were forced to punt, giving Navarro the ball on their own 20 with 4:35 left in the game. The Bulldogs would drive 32 yards, but the Bucs defense would make a huge stand and force a turnover on downs. The offense would then gain two more first downs, running out the clock and securing the 31-26 victory.
The Bucs were led by Matthews, who finished the game with 337 total yards of offense and two touchdowns. Grice added 106 yards on the ground and one touchdown.
With the win, the Bucs will likely move into the top spot when the NJCAA Top 20 National Poll is released on Tuesday.
The Bucs will next host Tyler Junior College on Oct. 8 at Bryan High’s Merrill Green Stadium. This marks the third consecutive season the Bucs have played a home game in Bryan, home of the school’s largest campus with over 13,000 students. Kick-off for the SWJCFC game is set for 3 p.m.