For the first 29 minutes of the game, TJC looked not only like the No. 2 team in the nation, but perhaps the top squad.
That changed in a matter of a minute - or make that 57 seconds.
Navarro College rallied from a 24-point deficit to score a 37-26 upset of Tyler Junior College on a sunny and hot Saturday afternoon at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
TJC falls to 5-1 on the season and 3-1 in Southwest Junior College Football Conference play, while Navarro improves to 3-3 and 1-3.
The Apaches were rolling with a 24-0 lead until 57 seconds left in the first half when Navarro’s Jeffrey McCutcheon blocked a punt and Elliot Albert recovered in the end zone. The PAT by Benigno Heredia brought the Bulldogs within 24-7.
TJC got the ball at the 17 and tried two passes that were incomplete. Shannon Vaughns ran the ball for 7 yards setting up a fourth-and-3. However, the TJC sideline called a timeout with 39 seconds left. That gave Navarro another opportunity.
The Bulldogs scored with 2 seconds on the clock as QB Harry Woodbery hit Kaylon Geiger for a 28-yard TD pass, stunning the TJC crowd.
There was a bad snap on the PAT and TJC’s Natarion Dickey picked up the ball at the 9 and took it 91 yards for two points. Thus, TJC led 26-13 at the half, but the momentum was clearly on the Navarro side.
“The blocked punt hurt - we worked on (punt protection) all week,” TJC head coach Danny Palmer said. “It was a bad decision to call a timeout by the head coach and that gave them six more points and not only that, it gave them momentum and confidence for the second half.”
In the second half, Navarro outscored TJC 24-0. Plus, the Bulldogs held TJC to just 127 total yards in the second half - 35 rushing and 92 passing, while Navarro gained 323 yards (154 rushing, 169 passing).
“They won the fourth quarter,” Palmer said. “The backs were running faster and the receivers were running faster and the quarterback made plays.
“No matter what they say, momentum is a factor. It is more mental than anything. I was proud of some of the kids, and not proud of myself for representing them today. We talked about it. This one hurts. ...”
TJC still led 26-20 in the fourth quarter and it appeared to have some good luck when Navarro’s DeAndre Cook fumbled the ball at the TJC 30. An Apache player leaped to recover and the ball bounced up to BJ Chambers who took it the remaining 25 yards into the end zone. After Heredia’s kick, Navarro led 27-26.
Vaughns led TJC with 94 yards rushing, while quarterback Brennen Wooten threw for 218.
Former Brownsboro standout Jamal Bell had 11 catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns for the Apaches.
Cook led NC with 22 carries for 118 yards and a TD.
The Apaches’ Devontay Wheatley recovered a fumble and Diarva Brown had an interception.
Bennie Franklin recovered a fumble for the Bulldogs with David Brazil and Trevor Denbow picking off passes.
SMOKE SIGNALS: TJC plays at Trinity Valley at 3 p.m. Oct. 14. … One Navarro player took a knee during the national anthem.
Navarro 37, No. 2 Tyler 26
Navarro 0 13 7 17 - 37
Tyler 14 12 0 0 - 26
TJC - Shannon Vaughns 5 run (Tyler Dunlop kick), 12:09
TJC - Jamal Bell 9 pass from Brennen Wooten (Dunlop kick), 7:35
TJC - FG Dunlop 32, 13:43
TJC - Bell 36 pass from Wooten (Dunlop kick), 5:31
NC - Elliot Albert recovered blocked punt in end zone (Benigno Heredia kick), :57
NC - Kaylon Geiger 28 pass from Harry Woodbery (try failed), :02
TJC - Nation Dickey return of extra point try, :02
NC - DeAndre Cook 1 run (Heredia kick), 6:33
NC - BJ Chambers 25 fumble return (Heredia kick), 11:46
NC - Mori Evans 10 run (Heredia kick), 7:03
NC - FG Heredia 21, :54
ATT. - 3,000.
FD 18 22
Rush-Yards 35-243 38-162
Passing Yards 290 233
A-C-I 22-41-1 26-51-2
Punts-Ave 8-39.2 9-45.1
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 2-1
Penalties-Yards 11-109 14-114
Rushing - Navarro, Cook 22-118, Evans 9-102,Chambers 1-25, Woodbery 1-10, Townsend 1-5, Ponder 1-0, Lumpkin 1-0, Team 1-(-17). TJC, Vaughns 16-94, Russell 10-53, Smith 9-32, High 1-8, Wooten 2-(-25).
Passing - Navarro, Woodbery 17-25-0 178 yards; Ponder 5-16-1 112 yards. TJC, Wooten 26-51-2 233.
Receiving - Navarro, Mims 6-67, Geiger 4-103, Townsend 4-29, Reyna 2-42, Lister 2-10, Cook 2-4, Edwards 1-20, Williams 1-15, TJC, Bell 11-133, Ward 5-39, Williams 3-26, High 3-1, Wiley 2-1, Smith 1-25, Russell 1-10.