Thursday night's meeting between No. 8 GMC and No. 7 Navarro College was billed as the first college football game of the 2017 season.
If that's the case then the visitors from Corsicana, Texas were the first team to be victorious on the new season after winning 23-7 on Davenport Field. Too heavy a burden was placed on the depleted GMC defense as the offense struggled to produce throughout the evening.
Navarro, also the Bulldogs, made hay on its first two drives by knocking through a pair of field goals to take a 6-0 lead into the second. It looked like they might get a third early in the second quarter after driving deep into GMC territory, but penalties and a huge Jabari Ellis sack took the visitors out of range and forced a punt.
"I thought we played hard on defense and very well at times," GMC head coach Bert Williams said after the loss. "I think we certainly showed that we're capable at playing at a very high level on that side of the ball. Where we got hurt is we got down to three corners period for a little bit more than half the game."
Returning cornerback A.J. Beach was already determined out before the game after dislocating his elbow early in fall camp. His defensive backfield teammate, Kishawn Miller, suffered the same injury in Thursday night's ballgame. Davis Daniel, also a defensive back, went down with an injury to thin out the options for the coaching staff and forced some guys in who weren't quite ready to play. Missed tackles by the home team also hurt their chances in the season opener.
Though the defense had its troubles, the offense is where the Dogs really struggled in the loss. They only accomplished three first downs in the first half to Navarro's 14, and went three-and-out four times in the same time period. The GMC offense did not make a first down until there were about six minutes remaining in the second quarter.
"Offensively we've got to do a better job of staying on blocks up front," Williams said. "We also gotta do a better job of getting to the hole. We made some bad decisions at running back throughout the night not going where they should've. We dropped a lot of balls at receiver, which was disappointing. There were a couple of times we had easy first downs and a good ball was thrown but we didn't bring it in."
The unit finally put something positive together with about two minutes left in the game though it was much too late to make a difference. Running back Kendall Cross took a handoff 20-plus yards before sophomore quarterback Garrel Quainton found his receiver for about a 30-yard gain down near the goal line. Quainton hooked up with Antonio Lomax the next play to get the first GMC points of 2017.
Williams and the Dogs will get back on the practice field Sunday to try and make sure things get moving in the right direction before their next game. GMC hosts Middle Georgia State University Saturday, Sept. 2, on Davenport Field for another 6 p.m. kickoff.