Little things catch up with Bulldogs in loss

Published 1:19 am Saturday, September 29, 2007

NATCHEZ — Natchez head coach Lance Reed knew his team would have to play a perfect game if they wanted to knock off the defending 5A South State champion Meridian Wildcats.

But while the Bulldogs played toe-to-toe with the Wildcats the entire game, they were left to rue some missed opportunities that led to a 28-14 loss.

“Meridian’s always a good team and we’re going to have to learn to step up to the plate against teams like that and pull some games out,” Reed said.

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The Bulldogs penetrated the Wildcat 20-yard line two times in the first half, but were turned away on downs both times. Both fourth down passes should have been completed, but were dropped.

“We’re going to have to take care of the little things in order to beat teams like this,” Reed said. “We need to take advantage of opportunities.”

When the Wildcats got their chances in the first half, they took them.

The Wildcats scored both times they went inside the Natchez 20, once on a 18-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Russell to Hamp Glover on their opening drive, and the other on a 6-yard run by James Barnett and took a 14-0 lead at halftime.

Natchez briefly got back in the game in the third quarter, executing a 14-play, 62-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a Travis Isaac 1-yard plunge.

Jered Anderson’s extra point cut the lead to 14-7 with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.

However, the Wildcats would come right back on a march of their own, quickly driving down the field on the arm and legs of Russell.

The Wildcat quarterback completed three passes for 48 yards on the 75-yard march and capped it off with a 12-yard touchdown run with just 16 seconds remaining in the half.

“That was a tough drive for us, giving it up in that way,” Reed said. “(Meridian) came back attacking and didn’t lay back and be complacent. We have to learn to turn it up a notch and make a stop.”

Russell led Meridian to another touchdown on its next possession, capping it off with a 27-yard jaunt into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 28-7 lead.

Natchez made a last ditch effort to stay in the game, executing a 69-yard scoring drive capped off by another Isaac scoring run midway through the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs had a good chance at recovering the onside kick, but once again missed an opportunity, letting it slip through their hands which ended any chances of an upset.

Freshman quarterback Javon Washington led the Bulldogs, throwing for 220 yards and rushing for another 28 yards.

However, when it was all over, Reed and the rest of the Bulldogs were left to rue what might have been if not for all the missed opportunities.

“We’re trying to build our program to the level of beating a program like Meridian,” Reed said. “That’s what we’re striving toward right now.”