NAVARRE- The Raiders are set to party like it’s 2006.
Jay Warren rushed for 207 yards and four scores, Andrew Rieves racked up 224 yards of offense and a pair of rushing touchdowns and Navarre wrapped up the District 2-6A crown with a 44-28 victory over Fort Walton Beach Friday night.
“It’s only been done twice in the history of the school,” Navarre coach Jay Walls said of the district title. “The kids have just worked so hard for this and they deserve this.”
The other championship came six years for the Raiders (7-1), who moved to 4-0 in league play and in the process prolonged their win streak to six overall and to three over the Vikings. The only thing standing in their way from an undefeated district record is Mosley, which is winless in league play at 0-4.
The Vikings (5-3), meanwhile, fell to 2-2 in league play and into a four-way tie for second in league play with Niceville, Crestview and Choctaw. With the second playoff spot up for grabs, next week looms large as Fort Walton Beach will host Choctaw Friday while Crestview will welcome Niceville.
The comfortable Navarre win was a break from the norm for Walls’ crew, which had seen enough down-to-the-wire finishes to last a lifetime in the opening three league games.
After surviving a seven-point win at Niceville, a four-point victory at Choctaw and last week’s five-point triumph over Crestview, Walls needed to give his heart a rest. And his team obliged.
But after leading 28-7 in the second half, the Raiders did receive a late scare.
FWB’s Blake James, who went 31 for 56 for 300 yards with four scores and an interception, connected with Chris Bauduin for a 27-yard score early in the third quarter and then Trace Ryan – who hauled in two scores – for a 13-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 28-21 headed into the fourth.
But Warren came back with touchdown runs of 1 and 25 yards to put the game out of reach before James added a 20-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Gibson in junk time. For good measure, Navarre kicker Chandler Moorer added a 37-yard field goal to put the game completely out of reach.
In the first half, Navarre was able to carry over the momentum from last week’s game-winning 98-yard drive against Crestview.
After a Fort Walton Beach’s opening drive ended with an Austin Minks’ missed 43-yard field goal, the Raiders opened up the playbook.
A halfback option that featured a 49-yard connection between Johnny Robinson-Pettus and Jordan Leggett, who hauled in six catches for 164 yards, set the tone for the 80-yard drive, which ended with a Rieves 15-yard touchdown run to stake the Raiders to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Continuing the momentum from holding the Vikings scoreless in the opening 12 minutes of play, the Raiders blocked a 26-yard Minks field goal to start the second quarter.
“I thought our defense came up big in the first half and set the tone early,” Walls said.
Two plays later, Warren took a handoff 75 yards up the left sideline to stake the Raiders to a 14-0 lead with 8:58 left in the half.
“We were determined to bounce back from last week’s effort against Crestview,” said Warren, who was held to just 11 rushing yards in that contest.
The Vikings would finally answer later in the half, turning a Ryan McCleod interception into an 11-yard touchdown connection between James and Trace Ryan to cut the deficit in half.
But the Vikings’ defense just couldn’t continue the momentum. Capping off an 85-yard drive to end the half, Warren scored from 18 yards out to give the Raiders a 21-7 halftime lead.
Contact Daily News Staff Writer Seth Stringer at 850-315-4421 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SethSnwfdn.