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Devils beat Bulldogs

By Matt Sigler
The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Seven Natchez High football players took the field Friday night for their last home game.
But what was meant to be a cherished memory, was ham-pered by a strong Pearl River Central team that rolled into Natchez and took down the Bulldogs 63-24.
“It is something that is going to be on my mind for a long time,” said senior wide receiver Sidney Davis. “The fact I lost my last game, it’s crazy.”
Pearl River took over the game early, and did it like they have been all year, with the power running game.
“On offense, we just did what we do,” Pearl River head coach Eric Collins said. “We are going to run the football. We aren’t trying to surprise anybody.”
But it was the special teams that struck first with Alexis Travis, taking back the opening kickoff 85-yards for a touchdown.
Pearl River would also score on their next two possessions of the first quarter. First, Hunter Hollifield took off from 51 yards out. Then, quarterback Terek Whitehead found the end zone from two yards out to push the lead to 21-0 heading into the second quarter.
But Natchez wasn’t going to lie down, especially with it being the Bulldogs’ last home game.
On the first play of the second quarter, the Bulldogs found the end zone with Chris Scott connecting with Malik Byrd from 27 yards out to cut the lead to 21-6.
But that was the closest the Bulldogs would get all night. The Pearl River rushing machine continued to pound the Natchez defense and methodically wear them out.
Mike Tatman was the next Blue Devil in the end zone with a run from 14 yards out.
On the next possession for Pearl River Central, quarterback Terek Whitehead had one of his three completions on the night, which went for a touchdown from 35 yards out to Donte Stephens.
Run down and dejected, Natchez entered the half down 34-6, but the Bulldogs found a small fire in the second half.
Even though Pearl River continued to put up points, Natchez was fighting the whole way.
Christian Roberts had a 2-yard touchdown run early in the third, which was followed up by a safety by the Blue Devil defense taking down Natchez running back Jon Ferguson in the end zone to make it 43-6.
Whitehead tossed his second touchdown of the night, this time to Devin Gutierrez from a yard out, to push the lead to 50-6.
Then Davis had enough and took over.
“I just never quit,” he said. “There is just something in me, I just can’t quit.”
Davis recorded three receiving touchdowns on the next three Natchez drives, from four, two and nine yards out, to keep the Bulldogs alive on the sidelines.
Davis finished as the game’s leading receiver with 11 catches for 97 yards.
Pearl River Central tacked on to their lead with two rushing touchdowns from Austin Champagne to cap the scoring and take the win.
“I was really proud of the way we came out tonight,” Collins said. “Natchez is a scary football team, because they have a bunch of skilled kids.”
With his first season of varsity football winding down, Natchez quarterback Chris Scott turned in another good performance going 24-of-45 for 288 yards and four touchdowns with an interception.
But it wasn’t easy, with Scott constantly having to escape pressure and being flushed out of the pocket.
“We just weren’t blocking in space and moving our feet,” Pete said. “It is something really simple. You can practice it all the time, and all of a sudden, when you get out here, something that tends to be routine is hard.”
The Bulldog defense struggled to stop the Blue Devils giving up 407 rushing yards on the night.
Even though they went down in their final home game, Pete said he is proud of his team, especially the seniors that stepped up for him this season.
“My hat goes off to those guys, because they welcomed me with open arms,” said Pete of the seniors. “We’ve only had a short time that we’ve been together, but I have really enjoyed them. I appreciate all of that.”