Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003
NATCHEZ &045; Well, at least somebody got to use those golden Thunderstix.
Picayune High School’s fans and its band had some leftover inflatable noisemakers from the Southern Miss-Nebraska game Thursday in Hattiesburg, and the Maroon Tide gave them ample opportunity to bang them together in a 54-0 thumping of Natchez Friday.
No. 11 Picayune (4-1, 1-0 division 3-5A) scored on every one of its 10 offensive possessions, except its last, which it fumbled away to the Bulldogs with less than four minutes left in the game in the division 3-5A opener for both squads.
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&uot;We thought if we could get off to a good offensive start then we would be all right,&uot; Tide head coach Dodd Lee said. &uot;(Natchez) has enough talent to play, but I know what it’s like when you’re first starting a program. They’re kids we’ll believe one of these days.&uot;
Eleven different ball carriers handled the rock for Picayune, which racked up 278 yards on the ground, led by Justin Magee’s 83 first half yards.
Magee, who did not play a down in the second half, was a broken record in the first 24 minutes as he scored over, and over and over on runs of 13, 35 and 3 yards, respectively, to help the Tide build a comfortable 30-0 halftime cushion.
The Bulldogs (1-4, 0-1 division 3-5A) appeared as though they never walked through the gates Friday, picking up just two first half first downs and amassing 91 total yards on the night.
&uot;The point was not that we came into the game flat, but we never were ready to play football,&uot; said Natchez head coach James Denson, whose team has lost two straight since upsetting Vicksburg in the third week of the season.
&uot;I don’t know what it’s going to take with these kids. They’ve got to want it.&uot;
After Picayune stubbed its toe on its first drive, settling for a Scott Hillary 36-yard field goal, the Maroon Tide got on track with a six-play drive capped by Magee’s first touchdown run, which opened the second quarter with a bang.
The Bulldogs were bottled up and forced to punt on the ensuing drive, giving the ball back to Picayune on their side of the field at the 35 after a 21-yard punt.
On the first play Magee slipped his way into a crease, juked like a bobblehead doll into the secondary and took it to the house for a 16-0 lead with 9:40 to play before the break.
&uot;We had a great week of practices, and if we can keep this attitude and line of thinking we’ve got a chance to be a good ball club,&uot; Lee said. &uot;We’ve got to avoid complacency to maintain that, though.&uot;
Natchez moved the ball forward on its proceeding possession, up passed midfield, but a John Miller run on third and 2 was stuffed by 6-2, 200-pound Picayune linebacker Brandon Walls, and the Bulldogs punted the ball away again.
Driving from their own 36, the Maroon Tide used some deception with an end-around counter out of a wing-T set to pick up chunks of yards and move into Natchez territory.
&uot;That’s a basic component of the wing-T,&uot; said Denson of the play that burned the Bulldogs numerous times for runs of 17 and 35 to name two. &uot;All of those things had been discussed in the walk-throughs. All of that we had go over entirely. The point was that we didn’t make the plays when we needed to.&uot;
&uot;That play is in our offense and we get to run it against certain defenses if they give it to us,&uot; Lee countered. &uot;We ran right at them tonight.&uot;
Magee’s last touchdown run made it 23-0 with less than two minutes before half, and most thought the torture had come to an end for intermission.
Not so fast my friends. Natchez could not run out the clock and when Riley Trask took a high snap he had nowhere to go but into the waiting arms of Maroon Tide defenders.
On the second play from the Natchez 13, Picayune quarterback Chris Stewart found Ryan Detillier in the back of the end zone for the score with 11 seconds to play.
Stewart finished the night 7 of 10 for 101 yards.
&uot;We tried to inspire them and encourage them throughout the ball game,&uot; Denson said. &uot;I didn’t see those things transpire. It all comes down to we didn’t get the job done.&uot;
The Bulldogs had one legitimate shot at scoring in the second half when fullback Jonathan Cook exploded up the gut of the Picayune defense for a 37-yard run down inside the red zone.
After Natchez picked up another first down to make it first and goal from the nine, the Bulldogs poorly managed the clock and could not get a third and goal play off before the buzzer sounded.
&uot;I thought we had been moving in the right direction over the last couple of weeks &045; we were on the right track,&uot; Denson said. &uot;We’ve played three decent ball games and two busts.&uot;
When asked if he there was any truth to the rumors that Friday was his last game on the Natchez sideline, Denson replied: &uot;I don’t know anything about that. I’m going to be here. I can’t tell you what the thought process of others is.