Natchez topples Wilkinson to start season
Published 1:28 am Saturday, August 23, 2014
NATCHEZ — The Natchez Bulldogs flexed its 5A muscle against 3A Wilkinson County in a 33-7 victory Friday night.
With two goal line stands and nine total sacks on Wilkinson County quarterback Desmond Hunter, the Bulldog defense set the tone for the night. Getting his first win with the Bulldogs as head coach, Melvin Pete viewed the win as an opportunity for growth.
“Everything is a plus right now, and we have to build off of it,” Pete said. “Still, we have a lot of improvements to be made.”
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The Bulldogs’ game plan from the start was to establish the run to take pressure off of freshman quarterback Chris Scott. The size of Natchez’s offensive line opened gaping holes for Natchez running backs, and John Ferguson led the Bulldogs in rushing with 122 yards on 14 carries.
In the early goings, Natchez put itself in a hole, as Scott couldn’t handle a bad snap, turning the ball over to the Wildcats on the Natchez 35-yard-line. That’s when the Natchez defense was called upon, and the Bulldogs responded, coming up with its first goal line stand of the game, stopping Wilkinson County at the one-yard line.
Nehemiah Ford, who had four sacks in the game, said the defensive game plan was to bring pressure on new starting quarterback Desmond Hunter, who replaced 2013 All-Metro Player of the Year Devin Voorhies.
“The coaches preached about how we were going to put pressure on the quarterback, and that was the game plan going in,” Ford said. “I’m happy we were able to do it.”
Following the defensive stop, Scott shook off his nerves and led the Bulldogs down the field, capping off a 90-yard drive with a 33-yard touchdown to Sidney Davis.
“It was nerve-racking at first because they beat us the last two seasons,” said Scott, who completed 9-of-15, threw for 143 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the victory. “I settled in when I got hit on the sideline in the first quarter, and that’s when my game kicked in.”
The Bulldogs added another score in the second quarter off of a Tydarrius Terrell touchdown run. Wilkinson County answered immediately when Travion Jones took the ensuing kickoff 74 yards for the score, making the Bulldogs’ lead 14-7. However, the Wildcats’ ineffective red zone offense left them scoreless in two trips that resulted in Bulldog goal line stands.
What Pete called the game-changing play occurred on a two-minute drive late in the second quarter. With two minutes left to play in Wilkinson County territory, Pete put Anthony Robinson in at quarterback to run an option-based offense. Wilkinson County stopped the Bulldogs, but a personal foul penalty continued the drive. Two plays later, Robinson broke the pocket, ran down field and was able to get out of bounds with six seconds left after Davis secured a path with a block downfield. The ensuing play, Robinson dropped back and found Travion McDuffie for a 21-yard score with zero seconds left on the clock.
“(Davis ) is my No. 1 man for making that block,” said Robinson, whose Bulldogs went into the locker room with a 20-7 lead. “That’s all we needed.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Natchez created separation as Shavoke Herrington picked off Hunter and took it to the house for the pick six. It was the first of two interceptions made by Herrington.
“All I can say is he does that everyday in practice,” Pete said.
Natchez limited Wilkinson County to negative six rushing yards and 118 passing yards. Hunter completed 7-of-19 for 118 yards and threw three interceptions.
The Bulldogs totaled 273 yards in the win and recorded 19 first downs. The Bulldogs were penalized 14 times for 93 yards.
Natchez will play at Jefferson County (0-1) next week, while Wilkinson County (0-1) plays Louisville at home.