Natchez tops Gators 12-6 on the road

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2006

VICKSBURG &8212; Natchez&8217;s Jason Bruce spent most of Friday night looking like Michael Vick as he confounded the Vicksburg Gators with an arsenal of spins, jukes and speed.

For his grand finale, however, Bruce decided to emulate another scrambling quarterback.

Bruce rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns, the last a 4-yard scamper in overtime, to lead Natchez to a 12-6 upset of the homestanding Gators.

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As Bruce hit the hole on his overtime TD, he held the ball out with one arm and strolled into the end zone untouched &8212; a play eerily similar to the one

Texas&8217; Vince Young used to beat Southern Cal in this year&8217;s Rose Bowl.

&8220;The first thing that came to my mind was Vince Young playing in the Rose

Bowl,&8221; Bruce said. &8220;All I thought about was scoring like that.&8221;

The game was expected to be an offensive shootout &8212; VHS won last year&8217;s

meeting 40-34 and the teams combined for 112 points in their week one games

&8212; but instead turned into a boring defensive slugfest.

Vicksburg managed only 18 yards of total offense and two first downs in a

scoreless first half, while Bruce threw two interceptions in the end zone

that kept Natchez off the board.

&8220;They blitzed, and we just didn&8217;t execute. We weren&8217;t sharp on offense like

we needed to be,&8221; Vicksburg head coach Alonzo Stevens said.

After an exchange of punts to start the third quarter, Vicksburg finally got


Starting at their own 46-yard line, the Gators switched from the spread

offense that had been ineffective in the first half to a power running game

and slowly sputtered down the field.

Backup quarterback Les Lemons converted a pair of fourth downs with some

solid runs of his own, and completed a pass to Delmon Robinson on

third-and-4 for another first down. Finally, on third-and-12 from the

Natchez 17, Hamlin sprinted up the middle for a touchdown to cap a 14-play

drive and break the stalemate with 23 seconds left in the third quarter.

Michael Cooper&8217;s extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 6-0, and was

one of several small mistakes that turned into a big headache for the


Vicksburg forced Natchez to punt on its next series and got the ball back at

its own 49 early in the fourth period. The Gators picked up a pair of first

downs to move to the Natchez 28, before Lemons was hit for a four-yard loss

and one of his teammates was flagged for a personal foul.

Vicksburg was forced to punt, and Bruce took advantage right away. He

completed a 41-yard pass to Edward Johnson to bring the ball into VHS

territory, then dumped off a screen pass to Latarus Frazier for a 19-yard

gain on third-and-long.

Finally, on fourth-and-goal from the 4 with under two minutes to play, he

took a quarterback draw and ran into the end zone untouched for the tying


&8220;It was a big momentum swing,&8221; Stevens said of the sequence that set up

Natchez&8217;s drive. &8220;We wanted to make them drive, and the worst thing that

could happen was a big play there.&8221;

Vicksburg moved the ball into Natchez territory in the final moments of

regulation, but was forced to punt and the game went into overtime.

The Gators continued to sputter offensively, and faced a fourth-and-goal

from the 5. Lemons took a handoff off the right side and was knocked out of

bounds at the 1, giving the ball back to Natchez.

It didn&8217;t take long for Bruce to finish things off.

He gained six yards on first down, then on the next play fielded a shotgun

snap, took one step back and broke off the left side untouched for the

game-winning touchdown.

&8220;He&8217;s our leader. we put the ball in his hands and he takes it and accepts

the pressure and accepts that challenge. That&8217;s what seniors do,&8221; Natchez

coach Lance Reed said.