Panthers control momentum, game on Natchez’s homecoming

Published 11:06 pm Friday, October 29, 2021

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NATCHEZ — Natchez high school scores its first touchdown of their homecoming game against Brookhaven on a five yard rush by Traylon Minor with 4 minutes left in the second quarter. Jumping onto the track to celebrate, it seemed like momentum had swung in Natchez’s favor. 

The momentum swung back to Ole Brook’s favor as Panther receiver Xavier Gayten caught the kickoff and made his way down the right sideline and scored on an 82-yard return. 

He stole whatever momentum the Bulldogs just created, head coach Randy Craft said. 

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“We had started moving the ball well and getting some rhythm,” Craft said. “We kick it to No. 5 and he returns it. It flipped the game. We had to come back and make a play on the next series and we didn’t.”

Ole Brook went on to win 49-20 following an impressive performance by Panther Quarterback Dre Ross who had three touchdowns in the game. 

Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey said he doesn’t always play like that but he stepped up tonight. 

“Here lately he has come back around,” King said. “He is a senior with a lot of experience. Hopefully he is kind of peaking for us.” 

King said he expected his team to win the line of scrimmage. The Panthers performed the way he thought they would as they put an immense amount of pressure on Bulldog quarterback Kyreek Murray. 

Numerous times, Murray would take the snap and immediately be faced with several Panther defenders in his face. This led to Natchez struggling to connect with wide receivers like Joshua Thomas, Mike Williams and Demarcco Blanton. 

“They have a big defensive line and we didn’t protect as well,” Craft said. “Last week our center got hurt. Our chemistry on the offensive line was not there like it normally is. 

Natchez didn’t go away quietly following the kickoff return. Instead, with 1:29 left in the second quarter, Bulldog Quarterback Kyreek Murray connected with receiver Williams for a 9-yard touchdown pass. The score cut the Panthers lead to 28-14 before half. 

Natchez gave up three touchdowns in the second half, two of them scored by Gayten who finished with two touchdowns. 

With 30 seconds left in the game, Kevontae Stewart scored on a three yard rush to make it 49-20. Players cheered for him as helped the bulldogs march down the field with his legs. 

“He is one of those guys who is a hard worker,” Craft said. “The kids feed off his energy and are happy to see him do well.”