Natchez High loses close Region 3-5A contest to Wayne County

Published 11:33 pm Friday, October 15, 2021

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NATCHEZ — With senior quarterback Kyreek Murray unable to play due to a knee injury suffered in last week’s loss at Laurel High School, Natchez High School head coach Randy Craft went with two players at quarterback for Friday night’s MHSAA Region 3-5A game against Wayne County High School.

Demarcco Blanton started, but struggled to move the Bulldogs’ offense down the field. Then he went to Traylon Minor in the second half and that strategy almost work. Almost because Wayne County junior signal caller Carter Hankins did just enough to lead the War Eagles to a 22-14 win.

“Tonight was a hard-fought game. We played hard. We battled throughout the game. It was 0-0 at halftime,” Craft said. “We showed a lot of grit. Wayne County came in at 5-1 and we had a chance to beat them. It shows you how close we are.”

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Josh Thomas caught a 65-yard touchdown pass from Minor, who wore No. 5, early in the third quarter for a 6-0 Bulldogs lead. Craft said that normally Minor wears No. 2, but that jersey was ripped apart and he had to wear another one.

The War Eagles scored 22 consecutive points between late in the third quarter and just past the midway mark of the fourth quarter.

Hankins threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Poole Jr. and the extra point was good, giving Wayne County (6-1, 4-0) a 7-6 lead. Hankins threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. The first one was an 11-yarder and the second one went 17 yard to Poole Jr. with nearly 5:00 left.

“He (Hankins) threw a couple of Hail Marys and their receivers came down with it. He had one long pass and one quarterback run for a first down,” Craft said. “We had them in check all night. But that meant our defense was on the field a lot. We were on the field too long. That’s how they put their long drive together late in the game.”

The Bulldogs struck back as Minor threw a 79-yard TD pass to Mike Williams about a minute later.

In addition to his two long touchdown passes, Minor also had 105 rushing yards. Defensively, Koren Harris had one interception, Cameron Craft had a team-leading 10 tackles, and Jakeel Irving had eight tackles.

Natchez High (3-5, 0-4) travels to Laurel to take on Region 3-5A foe South Jones High School in a must-win game for the Bulldogs Friday at 7 p.m.