Natchez fights hard, still loses

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 18, 1999

The Natchez Bulldogs scratched and clawed for a victory against the Biloxi Indians but the game ended with familiar results. Biloxi defeated Natchez 41-20.

Elbert &uot;Mo&uot; Lyles gathered his players and in a soft spoken tone told them, &uot;This was a game we could have won. We lost this game. Knowing that we lost this game should hurt us.&uot;

The hurt started early for Natchez. Biloxi jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The lead would stretch to 20-0 by the end of the half.

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The Biloxi Wing-T offense was run to perfection by quarterback, Darryl Thomas. The Indian offense prides itself on hiding the ball. Natchez defensive players would crush would-be ball-carriers only to find that the true ball-carrier was 20-yards down the field. Keys to the Indians’ attack were Thomas and running back, Bernard Vinson.

After Biloxi increased their lead to 27-0, Don Jackson of Natchez caught the ball at the 20-yard line and headed to the Biloxi 40-yard line. Jackson’s hard running ignited the Bulldog offense.

Cordell William took a Donald Butler pitch to the seven-yard line. Two plays later, Butler would roll left and toss a touchdown pass to Don Jackson. The touchdown was set up with a fake to running back Roderick Conner. The Bulldogs converted the two-point conversion to make the score 27-8.

Biloxi answered the&160;Bulldogs score with a touchdown by James Roberts. The score was 34-8 with only two minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter.

Natchez would score 12 points in the fourth quarter to press the Indians. Butler’s scrambling ability kept the Natchez drives alive. He would either tuck the ball and run or loft passes to his receivers. Butler tossed a 30-yard touchdown to Edwin Skipper.

Natchez defensive back, Troy Leake, recovered a fourth-quarter Biloxi fumble to give Natchez new life. Butler hit Edwin&160;Skipper for a 50-yard pass to get the Bulldogs in scoring position. After a pass interference call, Butler pitched to Roderick&160;Conner for the final touchdown. Natchez would kick an onside kick but the ball was touched by the Bulldogs before it traveled 10 yards.

Biloxi scored the final touchdown with 57 seconds left in the game. On a fourth and four play, Darryl Thomas took the ball around the right end for a 40-yard touchdown.

&uot;We are getting better,&uot; Lyles said. &uot;These guys didn’t quit when the score was getting out of hand.&uot;