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Natchez knocks off Gators in final minutes

By Patrick Murphy
The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Vicksburg High broke out of its offensive slump in a big way Friday night, but it still wasn’t enough to break into the win column.

Traylon Minor scored on a 31-yard run with 1:15 left in the game, and Natchez snatched a victory from the Gators 34-32 in a wild back-and-forth game. It was the first win at Natchez for first-year head coach Randy Craft.

“I’m excited about this first opportunity to get a Bulldog win inside this stadium,” Craft said. “I look forward to many more. It was a crazy game. I’m glad we won it and it was back-and-forth all game long. Coach (Todd) McDaniel has a tough team at Vicksburg and we had to play tough all four quarters.”

Vicksburg (0-3) remained winless, but finally got its offense going after back-to-back shutout losses to start the season. The Gators ran for five touchdowns in the game — two each by Laurence Sullivan and freshman quarterback Ronnie Alexander, and a 69-yarder by Sha’Kori Regan.

“We have had those same holes against Warren Central and Biloxi,” said Vicksburg head coach Todd McDaniel. “Our running backs finally found the holes tonight. We made some changes with our personnel in the backfield with our quarterback moving to wingback. Laurence Sullivan, Shakori Regan and Channing Adams did a great job running the ball for us. They found holes in the Bulldogs’ defense tonight.”

Sullivan led the Gators with two rushing touchdowns, one for 11 yards and the other for 28 yards, before Natchez scored their final touchdown. Alexander ran for a 2-yard touchdown in the third quarter while Regan ran for a 69-yard touchdown.

“I think we gave it our all and we put it all on the line,” Sullivan said. “It felt good to finally get on the scoreboard. Our running game saw huge improvements from last week’s game against Biloxi.”

Natchez jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but Vicksburg eventually came back to tie it at 26 on a 2-yard run by Alexander with 3:02 left in the third quarter. Sullivan’s second touchdown with 2:40 left in the game gave the Gators their first lead, but Natchez answered with Minor’s second touchdown of the game 85 seconds later. A two-point conversion gave the Bulldogs the 34-32 lead.

“Traylon is a tough, hard-nosed player,” Craft said. “When he gets out onto the field, he is going to give everything he has.”

Vicksburg had one last shot to pull out the win, but D.K. McGruder intercepted Alexander’s pass in the end zone as time expired.

“I was just seeing the ball going down and I was like, ‘I got to get it, I got to get it,’” McGruder said. “I went up and caught the football. It was a great feeling.”