Natchez comes out hot, loses energy in loss to Hazlehurst

Published 11:26 pm Friday, September 16, 2022

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NATCHEZ —  Wide Receiver Ca’Ron Williams stunning diving catch for touchdown gave the Natchez an early 6-0 lead. But by the fourth quarter, senior Mike Williams’ was being consoled by Traylon Minor as the Bulldogs lost 24-6 to Hazlehurst.

It was not the night Natchez fans envisioned when the team came out of the gates firing on all cylinders for homecoming.

Natchez started the game on the strong foot by recovering an onside kick on the opening kickoff. Head Coach Steve Davis said they were trying to take the early possession. 

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“We wanted to steal that  early possession and we stole it and then we scored. We stopped their next possession,” Davus said. “We wanted to get them off keel and we let them go off the hook.”

The crowd and team were hyped from the energy of homecoming. 

However, they had two interceptions and two fumbles which hurt them. Penalties, missed assignments and poor blocking hurt them, Head Coach Steve Davis said. 

“It’s hard on Mike Williams and Traylon Minor; they leave it all on the field,” Davis said. “We wanted to make this night special. They come out and practice hard. DeMarrco Blanton does too. It hurts me to see them lose like this. It hurts to watch them leave the field like this.” 

He was at a loss for words to describe how frustrated he was with the team. This spring when he was hired he made it clear the challenge would be changing the undisciplined culture of the team. 

It was not something he could do overnight. This summer the team ran, worked and were expected to act with discipline. 

As the teams got chippy at the end of the game he took his headset off and muttered “selfish and undisciplined,” two or three times. Sunday and Monday offer new chances to correct the mistakes and continue to work on the discipline. They will watch film together and hold coaches and players accountable. Davis said they have to keep fighting to be better.

“In the past, when things went wrong at this school it snowballed,” he said. “It was one of those nights where things just snowballed and we couldn’t dig ourselves out. I just felt like we lost the game with our energy and body language. Until they realize the potential and we play as one we won’t make progress.” 

Some of those mistakes are due to inexperience at the quarterback position. Unfortunately for quarterback Kaden Walton, 12 of the 24 points came off of interceptions thrown into coverage and returned for a touchdown. They were passes he would like to have back. 

Walton had two other passes where he faced heavy pressure, threw an ill advised pass and had it picked off. Those interceptions were nullified by penalties on Hazlehurst. 

Walton continued to display his arm and the potential to hit the deep ball. A few passes were dropped by receivers that could have changed the game. Davis said it is just part of the quarterback development process. 

“It’s just growing pains. We take the good with the bad right now. We are going to have good games and we will have bad,” Davis said. “My job is to uplift them.”

One of the ways he is helping pick up spirits for the Bulldogs was creating a smoke filled entrance for his team. While they waited for their new tunnel with a smoke machine to get to Natchez from Memphis, he had a smoke machine out Friday night. The tunnel is expected to get to Natchez in time for their first district game against Hattiesburg. 

“I try to give them what they want to bring the progress back to where it should be,” Davis said. “We start a new season Friday. We have to get better.”