Close not enough for Natchez High

Published 2:42 am Saturday, October 2, 2010

HATTIESBURG — Natchez High has had no trouble hanging with tough opponents for two weeks straight.

But the Bulldogs don’t want to hang. They want to win.

But Friday Natchez High’s defense could not get Oak Grove’s offense off the field during critical 3rd-and-long situations in the second half, and that proved to be costly as the Bulldogs fell to the Warriors 31-28 for their second straight loss in Region 3-6A.

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While Oak Grove, last year’s state runner-up, improved to 2-0 in region play, Natchez High needs to finish with nearly all wins to make the playoffs. It’s not a situation head coach Lance Reed envisioned with the expectations as high as they were for this team when the season started.

“They played a better game than we did. We were trying to react to what they were doing. We let a couple go by tonight. Defensively, we didn’t play a good game,” Reed said.

Natchez High (4-2) did a better job of holding on to the ball in this game with just two turnovers. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs could not quite rally from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter.

Reed said Oak Grove mixed up the pass and the run and that had the Bulldogs’ defense confused at times.

“We weren’t very aggressive. I give credit to them for coming out and going after us,” Reed said. “We weren’t able to make plays in a timely fashion. When you can’t get off the field, it’s tough to win ball games.”

Javon Washington had a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs, one in the first quarter and the other in the fourth quarter. He also completed 12 of 22 passes for 206 yards with one interception and no touchdowns.

Derrian Johnson caught nine passes for 85 yards. Kevin Bailey led the Bulldogs’ ground game with 18 carries for 130 yards and one touchdown. Detrique Sims scored on a 23-yard fumble return in the third quarter.

“We fought back at the end. We played competitively,” Reed said.

Natchez High will look to end its two-game losing streak when it hosts Brandon at 7 p.m. Friday.