Turnovers doom Natchez in loss to Wayne County
NATCHEZ — Natchez High School blinked and found itself down 35-0 several minutes into the second quarter.
And the Bulldogs were never able to recover as they dropped their opening game in Mississippi High School Activities Association Region 3-5A to Wayne County High School, 62-12.
The War Eagles benefitted from five NHS turnovers in the first half, converting touchdowns on all five of them. Head coach Lance Reed said his team shot ititself in the foot one too many times for his players to have a shot in Friday night’s blowout.
“You can’t play ball that way,” Reed said. “We were hoping we could come back and rebound from our last outing (a 27-6 loss to Warren Central High School two weeks ago), and we did not. We’re a team that continues to work, and we’ll seek the answers to get better.”
NHS didn’t get on the board until 10:31 in the second quarter when quarterback Anthony Robinson hit Malik Byrd on a 64-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-7. But Wayne County responded by scoring three more touchdowns to make it 55-7 at the half.
Robinson, who finished 23 for 42 in passing for 218 yards, a touchdown and an interception, said the team never got down mentally despite the early hole in which it dug itself.
“Even though we were down for a big score, I don’t think it affected us much,” Robinson said. “We kept fighting.”
On the opening drive of the game, NHS converted on a fourth down with a fake punt that Lee Jackson ran for 22 yards into War Eagle territory. But the Bulldogs later stalled out, turning it over on downs, and Wayne County marched down the field and scored on a 6-yard carry by Malik Dansby.
After stalling out again inside their own territory, the Bulldogs attempted to punt, but Wayne County blocked it, and Tyree Evans recovered the ball in the end zone to make it 14-0 Wayne County with 5:58 left in the first.
Later in the quarter, after forcing Wayne County to punt, NHS touched the ball on the punt but couldn’t pull it in, allowing Wayne County recover on the NHS 32. This set up a short scoring drive for the War Eagles, capped off by a Dallas Sims 3-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0 with 51 seconds left in the first.
Another untimely fumble by NHS at the end of the first quarter on their own 36 set up another scoring drive for Wayne County. After tallying 18 yards on the ground to end the first quarter, Elijah Pugh ran the ball in from 18 yards out on the first play of the second quarter to put Wayne County ahead 28-0.
The NHS turnover troubles continued as the Bulldogs tried to punt on the ensuing kickoff, but the snap sailed over the punter’s head, and Wayne County recovered the ball on the Bulldogs 5. Sims ran it in from 5 yards out, and NHS trailed 35-0 with 11:18 in the second.
After the Bulldogs cut the lead to 35-7, Wayne County scored less than a minute later on a 25-yard touchdown run by Sims with 9:57 left. A fumble on the Bulldogs’ own 29 set up a Ramik Wallace 5-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Reggie Stewart at the 8:12 mark. The War Eagles scored one more time in the half on a 5-yard run by Freddy Jordan Jr.
In the third quarter, Wayne County scored its final touchdown on a 4-yard run by Stewart with 4:04 left. Robinson added a touchdown for NHS on a 1-yard carry with 3:32 to go in the fourth quarter.
Robinson led the Bulldogs in rushing with 78 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. John Ferguson added 59 yards on nine attempts. Sidney Davis had nine pass receptions for 60 yards.
NHS (2-3, 0-1) will play at West Jones High School Friday.