And there to answer his prayer was Mikul Smith, who hauled in the pass and fell back into the end zone for the 38-yard touchdown reception.
“I was looking down the field and had to throw it, and Mikul made a play,” said Rieves, who threw for 82 yards and the score. “We have so many playmakers that make me look better than I am.”
The highlight-reel play, along with a career-high 248 yards and three scores from Jay Warren, proved to be more than enough to lead the Raiders to a 30-10 victory.
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“It was a big win for our team and I thought we played well for four quarters tonight,” Navarre coach Jay Walls said.
Back to the brilliant grab that proved to be the boost of momentum Navarre needed, Smith said it was just a matter of wanting the ball more.
“Andrew threw it up I just went up for it and knew I had to bring it down,” he said.
The catch, though, was just a subplot in the greatness that was Warren .
The senior had touchdown runs of 11, 4 and 70 yards, the latter of which sealed the win in a second half which the Raiders outscored the Patriots 20-3. His banner day led the Raiders to 340 overall rushing yards, 84 yards above their average on the season.
“We did a great job of running the ball, which I knew was going to be a huge key for us,” Walls said.
It was the ninth straight win for the Raiders, who improved to 6-0 at home with its second victory over Pace this year. Up next for the Raiders will be a semifinal matchup at Milton, which defeated Niceville 38-31 Friday night.
Helping carry the load in the win was also Navarre ’s defense, which limited a backfield averaging 265 yards per game to just 161 yards on 42 carries. That including holding J.C. Curry to 27 yards, 82 yards below his per-game average, along with limiting quarterback Brice Moore, who had one interception to zero touchdowns, to just 10 of 20 passing for 110 yards.
“I thought (holding them) was going to be tough because we had looked at film of them and it just seemed their offense was getting better and better,” Walls said.
Holding opponents to under 15 points per game, it was the eighth time in 11 games the Raiders held their opponent to 17 points or fewer. And the defensive success was a big part of a tight first half.
Navarre controlled the pace in the opening 24 minutes, but the Raiders had little to show for it.
Offensively, the Raiders came away from the half with four red zones and drove inside Pace’s 25 yard line on all five trips. That was largely on the shoulders of Warren, who garnered 91 of the Raiders’ 136 rushing yards.
Meanwhile, Pace had seven penalties for 70 yards, mustered only six first downs and gained just 72 yards on the ground.
But the scoreboard read just 10-7.
The struggles of a 14-minute scoreless streak to start the game were highlighted by a missed 22-yard field goal from Chandler Moorer in the first quarter.
But Navarre would regain its nose for the end zone, getting an 11-yard Warren touchdown run early in the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
Pace’s offense, which had mustered only one first down up to that point, would provide an immediate answer.
The Patriots drove 82 yards in 15 plays, the final a 1-yard touchdown run from Quaide Weimerskirch to knot the score at 7 late in the half.
But Warren would once again put the team on his back. Running for 63 yards on the ensuing drive, the bulk of which came on a 46-yard scurry up the left sideline, Warren set up a 24-yard field goal from Moorer to cap off the half.