Natchez to take on No. 4 Oak Grove

Published 11:59 pm Thursday, October 1, 2009

NATCHEZ — After opening up Region 3-6A play with the No. 2 ranked team in the state, the Natchez Bulldogs will take on the No. 4 ranked team in the state in their second region contest tonight.

One week after dropping a 35-0 decision to Meridian, the Bulldogs welcome undefeated Oak Grove to town in an effort to pick up their first region win.

Oak Grove is 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in region play after disposing of Wingfield 44-12 last week in their region opener.

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However, the Warriors haven’t looked overly impressive in their other three victories this season.

After hanging on to defeat Class 2A opponent Bassfield 30-20 in the season opener, Oak Grove had to sweat out a 21-18 win over Petal and a 21-20 win over Laurel.

Still, Natchez coach Lance Reed said Oak Grove is full of talented players who will give the Bulldogs all they can handle.

“They bring a talented bunch to town,” Reed said. “They have a lot of good skill guys, good receivers and running backs and also a good quarterback. Those guys just make plays and we are going to have to contain them.”

Reed said he doesn’t mind playing the region’s two toughest teams right off the bat.

“We’re used to it,” Reed said. “Every season for the past few years, we’ve started off with Meridian and Oak Grove. It gives us an idea of where we are as a team. We like to go out and take on the best at the beginning and see if we can beat those guys.”

Natchez was shut out last week in the loss to Meridian, and Reed said the Bulldogs have been working on correcting drive-killing mistakes in practice this week.

Natchez drove inside the Meridian 20-yard line three times last week, only to come away with no points.

“We’ve really been working on not hurting ourselves,” Reed said. “We’ll have second and short or third and short and get a costly penalty to make it third and long. Costly penalties and lack of execution in the red zone were our downfalls last week.”

Oak Grove defeated Natchez twice last year. The Warriors won 49-20 in the regular season and then eliminated the Bulldogs from the playoffs with a 35-15 win in the second round.

Reed knows his team must play with intensity for a full four quarters if the Bulldogs want to break that streak.

“We’ve got to learn how to play a full game regardless of the situation,” Reed said. “We’ve got to give ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter if we want to win the game.”