Team effort leads Natchez Middle School to homecoming win

Published 9:10 pm Thursday, September 30, 2021

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NATCHEZ — Natchez Middle School Bulldogs needed a team effort to beat Port Gibson on homecoming Thursday night 8-6. Natchez’s lone touchdown came on a 60-yard rush by Martavis Woods.

Middle school head coach Josh West said Woods comes from an athletic pedigree. His older brother Dre Melton plays baseball at Jackson State.

“He has the expectation to be good, and he is quick,” West said. “On that play, I saw we actually blocked someone upfront. Everybody did their jobs and didn’t give up any penetration from the opposing team.”

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On the other side of the ball, it was penetration that kept the Bulldogs in front. Natchez lined up in a goal-line defense to hopefully stop a two-point conversion try following a touchdown by Port Gibson in the fourth quarter.

Port Gibson’s quarterback couldn’t even take a step back from the center when Bulldog defensive lineman Cameron “Honeybun” Thomas shot underneath the center and grabbed his legs. The tackle proved to be the difference in the game.

“He is my rock. I depend on him in those situations. We look for him to come up next year as a freshman,” West said. “He came off low and hard. He was disciplined and knew his assignment.”

Thomas forced two miss snaps in the fourth quarter by putting pressure on the center. West said he lined up in a 0 technique, meaning he lined up head-on with the center. The center then had to think about blocking and snapping the football.

Another player stepped up for the bulldogs when seventh-grader Patrick Banks scooped up a punt and raced to the right side. Dodging tacklers, he got the ball down inside the 20 with about two minutes left to go in the game.

“This is his second game ever,” West said. “It was a fluke. He picked up the ball by himself. He is very unselfish and does whatever the team needs him to do. It sealed the game for us, and we had a short field to work with.”

Natchez drove the ball down to the five-yard line before kneeling out the clock out of a victory formation. West said he could have scored a touchdown but did not want to risk anything.

“We took a knee to get out of here alive,” West said. “We wanted to play it safe. It was a district game, and we needed a win. We want to play in the championship game at Alcorn State. We have to win two more games.”