Bulldogs need to do more than throw
Published 12:14 am Monday, October 1, 2007
NATCHEZ — Natchez coach Lance Reed knows if the Bulldogs are going to be successful in Region 3-5A, they have to be able to run the ball.
But once again, that proved to be easier said than done as Natchez rushed for just 63 yards on 28 carries in a 28-14 loss to Meridian Friday night.
Reed knows those numbers must change if the Bulldogs (2-3, 0-1) want to make the playoffs.
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“We really need to pick it up in the running game,” Reed said. “That was the backbone of our offense last season and so far this year, it has not lived up to where we want it.”
The lack of a running game puts more pressure on freshman quarterback Javon Washington, who was forced to throw 41 passes on Friday. He completed 20 of them for 220 yards and an interception.
Throwing the ball that much is not something Reed wants to get in a habit of.
“We don’t want to throw the ball that much,” Reed said. “We were behind and had to start throwing, but our running game needs some definite improvement.”
One of the bright spots of the lack of a running game is it allows Washington to show what he can do.
Reed said Washington has won the starting quarterback position over Rico Richardson, although Richardson will still play under center some.
Washington dazzled with his running ability and strong, accurate arm on Friday and would have completed much more passes if not for several drops.
“He has done a great job for us, especially for a freshman.” Reed said of Washington. “I’m very proud of his efforts. He’s a smart kid who gives us a lot of what we want at quarterback.”
The Bulldogs suffered a crucial injury in Friday’s game, as free safety Donald Bates dislocated his elbow in the first half.
Bates will have further observation on his elbow to see exactly how bad it is and how much time he will miss.
“That is a very big loss for us,” Reed said. “Donald is our leading tackler. We hope to get him back as soon as possible.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Bulldogs this Friday as they will play host to the Oak Grove Warriors.
“We go from playing the defending South State champions (Meridian) to the South State runner-ups (Oak Grove),” Reed said. “They have a spread offense and run the ball very well. We’ve got to find a way to slow those guys down.”
Vidalia coach Dee Faircloth was very pleased following his squad’s 32-6 win over Jena Friday night, happy to get out with a victory that moved the Vikings’ record to 3-2.
“Jena’s going through a lot of turmoil right now but they’ve got a good team,” Faircloth said. “We were scared to death of them but we came out ready to play.”
Faircloth gave special credit to both the offensive line, which opened up holes that led to 296 Viking rushing yards and the entire defense, which held Jena to a single touchdown.
“We really had a good week of practice,” Faircloth said. “The defense beat up on the offense all week so when it came time for the game, the offense was battle tested.”
The difference in the blowout victory over Jena and Vidalia’s previous losses were the Vikings ability to hold on to the football, Faircloth said.
“The first couple of weeks we fumbled the ball about every time we touched it,” Faircloth said. “Last week was our first fumble-free game. We’re where we’re supposed to be, it’s just taken us a while to get there.”
Faircloth hopes the momentum from Friday’s win will carry the Vikings into their next two games against Bunkie and Marshfield.
“We play the Florida Gators this week and the LSU Tigers next week,” Faircloth said jokingly. “Bunkie likes to spread you out like Florida and the Marshfield looks a lot like LSU, even their uniforms. The next two weeks are not for the faint hearted.”
The Cathedral Green Wave will try to build off their first half against Bogue Chitto as they prepare to face a Mount Olive team loaded with McNair’s.
Friday’s game was tied late in the first half before Bogue Chitto scored with a few seconds remaining in the first half to take a 20-14 lead.
Bogue Chitto then scored on its first possession of the second half and went on to post a 55-34 win.
“We played our best football all year in the first half,” Cathedral coach Craig Beesley said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game and I was proud that we continued to play hard. If we keep playing hard, hopefully we’ll start getting few breaks to go our way.”
Cathedral (1-4) will need all the breaks they can get when they host Mount Olive next week and their trio of McNair’s.
Mount Olive is led by Dandy Dozen tailback Jason McNair and quarterback Julius McNair. Steve McNair Jr. also stars for Mount Olive at wide receiver.
“It’s going to be tough to slow them down but we’ll do the best we can,” Beesley said.
On the injury front, senior cornerback and wide receiver Blaze Bradford left Friday’s game with a possible broken hand. X-rays will be taken to discover the severity of the injury.
It is not known how long Bradford will be out of action.
The Tigers of Jefferson County will have to shake off the heartbreak of Friday night’s loss to South Pike and refocus when they take on a solid Franklin County team.
Jefferson County lost their undefeated record when South Pike scored with three second left in the game to steal an 18-14 win away.
Tiger coach James Herrington was still ruing the mistakes days later.
“We had opportunities to close South Pike out,” Herrington said. “We left a lot of points out on the field. We had several turnovers and mental mistakes.”
Herrington was upset about several turnovers, including one inside the Tigers’ own 20-yard line that set up a South Pike touchdown early in the third quarter, and penalties which wiped out several big plays by Tiger tailbacks.
“We’ve got to cut down on mistakes and play a cleaner game if we want to win,” Herrington said.
The Tigers will take on Franklin County Friday night in a pivotal game for both teams.
Herrington said containing defensive ends Aljoshua and Bo Tillman will be the key to the game.
“Everybody knows about the Tillman cousins at defensive ends,” Herrington said. “When you play Franklin County you’ve got to account for them every play and try to take them out of the game.”
Herrington said his offensive line must also play solid in order for the Tigers to come out on top.
“It is a must that our offensive line comes up big against Franklin County,” Herrington said. “We need to run the ball and they are going to play stout run defense.”
Grady McCluskey still can’t believe his Franklin County Bulldogs lost Friday night to Tylertown.
The defending 3A state champions were shocked when Tylertown scored with 5 seconds left to steal a 14-13 win in Franklin County’s Region 7-3A opener.
After watching game film Saturday, McCluskey knew exactly what was to blame.
“We just played awful,” he said. “We were lackadaisical and had no energy. We really only played the last seven minutes and you can’t do that against a good team on the road and expect to win.”
The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times and had a punt blocked which led to a Tylertown touchdown.
“We weren’t prepared to play and that was the end result,” McCluskey said. “We didn’t show up to play at all and that’s what happens.”
The Bulldogs dropped to 4-1 overall and 0-1 in region play, which makes Friday’s region game against 4-1 Jefferson County even more critical.
“We’re going to find out what kind of team we have now,” McCluskey said. “It’s going to be tough to rally but if we are any kind of competitors we will put it on the line. We understand the gravity of the situation. We have to win Friday. We can’t go 0-2 in the region.”
After barely squeaking out a homecoming win over Wilkinson County, the Ferriday Vikings will turn their attention to a home game against Jonesboro-Hodge.
Ferriday coach Freddie Harrison said his team wasn’t mentally prepared to play against Wilkinson County.
“You can’t point fingers at anyone on the team,” he said after the game. “I’m to blame. It’s my job as a coach to get the team prepared. They bailed me out tonight.”
Jonesboro-Hodge is coming off a 44-26 win over Grant last week and Ferriday will have to stop their high-powered offense in order to win.
Ferriday will carry a 5-0 record into the game against Jonesboro-Hodge.