No. 3 Grizzlies edged at No. 1 Navarro in overtime

No. 3 Grizzlies edged at No. 1 Navarro in overtime

CORSICANA, Texas – In a matchup of last season's NJCAA national championship game, No. 1-ranked Navarro scored a touchdown in overtime to edge the third-ranked Butler Grizzlies, 23-16, at Tiger Stadium on Thursday night.

The Bulldogs scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper by Adrian Nelson in overtime. On its overtime possession, Butler reached the 10-yard line but was held out of the end zone on four consecutive pass attempts to end the game.

Both teams scored on their first possession of the game, Navarro getting a field goal on the first drive of the contest and Butler coming back with a 20-yard touchdown run by Jasper Sanders to take a 7-3 lead.

Navarro regained the lead briefly in the second quarter when a Butler interception became an 18-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Robert Primes.

Again Butler answered a Navarro score with a touchdown of its own. Kendall Wrenn's long kickoff return set up a short scoring drive, capped by a 33-yard touchdown pass from Chandler Whitmer to Wrenn that made the score 14-10.

Navarro would add another field goal before halftime, making it a 14-13 game at intermission.

Neither team scored in the third quarter. Then a Navarro miscue turned into two points for Butler when a high snap on a punt attempt went through the back of the end zone for a safety, putting Butler in front 16-13 with 10:27 to play in the game.

The Grizzlies got the ball on the free kick following the safety and drove into Navarro territory. But a fumbled snap by the Grizzlies put the ball back into the hands of the Bulldogs, who went down the field and got their third field goal of the game, tying the contest with just over eight minutes to play.

Both teams would get the ball one more time but could not score, sending the game to overtime. It is Butler's first overtime game since winning the 2008 NJCAA title game over Snow College in double overtime by a 37-30 score. It is Butler's first overtime loss since a 23-17 loss in four overtimes at Garden City in the 2000 Region VI championship game.

"We're obviously disappointed that we didn't win the game, but the kids played hard and we had lots of opportunities to win," Butler Coach Troy Morrell said. "Mistakes hurt us and that is something we'll have to learn from, but give a lot of credit to coach Bobek and Navarro. They are a tremendously talented team."

Butler is now 0-1 on the season. The Grizzlies begin Jayhawk Conference play a week from Saturday with a 7 p.m. kickoff at home against Fort Scott.

"We are going to take this and build on it and we'll be stronger because of it," Morrell said. "We've just got to move on. Our number one goal is to win the conference and that's what we're going to start preparing for now."