Jefferson County tops Natchez for first time since 2007

Published 2:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2016

It’s been nine years since Jefferson County High School head coach James Herrington beat Natchez High School.

After the Tigers’ painful overtime loss, Herrington said his team stuck to the basics to beat the Bulldogs 28-20.

“I knew that tonight against Natchez would prove where we were defensively, and I think we may be on to something.” James said.

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Jefferson County scored on its opening drive. Rah’Kendrick Reynolds heaved a 51-yard pass to Jaqurious Blake who had enough space to race in for a touchdown.

Natchez responded on the following drive. Tydarius Terrell gave the Bulldogs good field position to start the drive, and Shavoké Herrington raced for a 15-yard scoring run.

Both offenses struggled to complete passes consistently for most of the first half, but Jefferson County found consistency on the ground and racked up 94 rushing yards. Jalen Herrington led the way with 42 yards in the first half.

“The work you put in in practice, it pays off,” Jalen Herrington said. “From the first play of the game, I broke like four tackles, and I knew they weren’t tackling me.”

With less than three minutes left in the first half, quarterback Chris Scott found a rhythm completing five of 10 passes for 57 yards to lead the Bulldogs down the field and take a 14-8 lead with 1:36 remaining.

Jefferson County, however, scored on the final play of the half. A long pass to the end zone was tipped into the air by two Natchez defensive backs and caught by junior Milo Collins. Jalen converted on the 2-point attempt to give Jefferson a 16-14 halftime lead.

“I stayed focused and kept my eye on the ball the whole time,“ Collins said.

On their first drive of the second-half, the Tigers establish the run. Jefferson County marched the ball from the 24 to the Natchez 31-yard line, where Jalen broke multiple tackles to pad the Tigers lead.

Scott completed four of six passes on the ensuing drive, and Ernest Woods capped off the drive with a 5-yard run to cut the lead to 22-20.

Jefferson County’s key play came with approximately seven minutes remaining in the game. After a four-minute drive, Natchez faced fourth-and-goal from the Tigers’ 10 and elected to kick a field goal. The kick was tipped and fell into the hands of Gailrontae Fells who returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown.

Jefferson County’s defense kept the Bulldogs at bay for the final two drives. KeMari Clark intercepted Scott just after the six-minute mark, and a fake punt failed on Natchez’s final drive.

“We didn’t make the big plays when it was time to make the plays,” Natchez coach Roy Rigsby said. “They made some unbelievable plays … and my hat’s off to him for what they’ve done.”

Scott finished 19-for-48 with 209 yards passing. Shavoké Herrington led Natchez in receiving with five receptions for 107 yards.

For the Tigers, Reynolds was 6-for-16 for 119 yards. Jalen totaled 124 yards rushing.

“To finally beat them … it feels good to finally get that win in my senior year.” Jalen said.