The Gulf Breeze Dolphin football team won their first district championship since 1989, and it was also their first win over Navarre since 2006. The rivalry game was settled by a score of 31-28 in Navarre territory.
The game was never one sided and momentum switched constantly. Navarre struck first on their second drive of the night. The fourteen play drive was capped off with a Caine Adamson touchdown rush near the end of the first quarter. The Dolphins were quick to strike back with senior Tyler Phelps throwing a 31 yard bomb to senior Cole Sheppard for a touchdown.
Navarre answered next with a 47 yard touchdown pass from Adamson to Jordan Williams early in the second quarter and gained a 14-7 lead. Navarre would extend that lead to 21-7 with a 61 yard pass from Adamson to Dante Wright for a touchdown.
The Raiders’ two touchdown lead did not last long because less than two minutes later Phelps had a 3 yard rushing touchdown to make the score 21-14 after a 24 yard reception from Sheppard landed the Dolphins in the red zone. The Dolphins would end the half on a 27 yard field goal from sophomore Spencer Wirth set up by a heads up from senior Parker Baynes to make the score 21-17.
The third quarter consisted of a defensive battle. The two teams traded fumbles at the beginning of the quarter which ended up setting Navarre up in their own territory. The Dolphins soon got the ball back after stuffing Carter on fourth down. The Dolphins took their first lead of the game 24-21 with less than a minute left in the third quarter when Sheppard caught his second touchdown of the game.
The fourth quarter was full of emotion and grit. Navarre took the lead back with a little under six minutes to play with a 7 yard rush from Michael Carter to make it 28-24. After trading punts the Dolphins capped off a game winning drive with Sheppard catching his third touchdown of the night to make it 31-28 with 1:39 left in the game. With 8.5 seconds left Adamson fumbled on the 7 yard line.
Throughout the game the Dolphins accumulated impressive stats. Phelps threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns all caught by Sheppard. Sheppard was not the only receiver with impressive numbers though. Senior Tristan Covell hauled in ten receptions for 141 yards. On the defensive side junior Will Sawarynski and senior Ben Dobry tied for most tackles with 15 each.
The Gulf Breeze fans proceeded to storm Navarre’s field and join in with the band with the playing of the alma mater.
Senior John Learned said, “I have to admit after the game was probably the only time I’ve cried tears of joy. It’s amazing to finally beat Navarre after years of training and working. That win is definitely something that we relish as a team and something the community has deserved for a long time coming.”
RESULTS FROM TATE
Senior Gavin Mayes, who plays center, said, “Coach Clayton made us put in the work over the offseason so we always knew that we’d have a good shot to be in a position to beat anybody, especially Navarre.”