Laurel uses run game, big second quarter to defeat Natchez High

Published 11:39 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

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LAUREL — The Natchez High School Bulldogs got off to a good start in their MHSAA Region 3-5A match-up on the road against the Laurel High School Golden Tornadoes, but they couldn’t keep it going for four quarters as Laurel had a big second quarter to take a 52-26 win Friday night.

After scoring on its first two drives, Natchez High took a big blow when senior quarterback Kyreek Murray went down with an injury and its offense never recovered.

“Offense came out hot. We went five, six plays on our first drive. We then scored on our second drive. On our third series, Kyreek hurt his knee and had to come out,” Bulldogs head coach Randy Craft said. “That slowed down our momentum some.”

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Murray threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Demarco Blanton and added a two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs an early 8-0 lead. 

After Laurel answered with a 27-yard touchdown pass with 6:27 to go in the first quarter to tie it up at 8-apiece, Natchez High responded thanks to a long kickoff return to the Golden Tornadoes’ 20-yard line. Murray connected with Mike Williams on a 20-yard TD pass to give the Bulldogs a 14-8 lead with 5:36 to left in the opening quarter.

“We played well at the start. Then we turned the ball over inside the 15,” Craft said. “We’ve got to continue to play for four quarters. We’ve got to execute.”

Laurel (4-2, 2-1) then scored on a 54-yard touchdown run with 11 seconds left in the opening quarter to go up 16-14. The Golden Tornadoes then went up 24-14 thanks to a five-yard run just past the midway mark of the second quarter. They would add to their lead on a three-yard TD run for a 31-14 lead with 3:17 remaining until halftime and a 36-yard TD pass for a 38-14 advantage.

“They’ve got a big offensive line. They’ve got a Mississippi State commit on the offensive line and two other big guys,” Craft said.

Natchez High tried to get back in the game on a 79-yard touchdown run up the middle right before halftime to make it a 38-20 game.

However, Laurel scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to end any thoughts of a comeback for a commanding 52-20 lead. The Bulldogs scored near the end of the third quarter on a 45-yard run.

“They were able to run the ball a bit. Probably a little more than we expected,” Craft said.

Natchez High (3-4, 0-3) plays host to Wayne County High School next Friday at 7 p.m. in a pivotal Region 3-5A match-up for the Bulldogs.