Cats grab needed win, move to 2-6
By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Oct. 23, 2002
A prep football team that needed a win in the worst way got one last Friday night in Natchez.
The Meridian High Wildcats had been in a funk ever since playing top-ranked Wayne County nose-to-nose in week five in a 13-5 loss at Ray Stadium in Meridian.
Two flat as pancake performances followed in losses to Brandon (24-0) and Hancock (21-11). The slump extended into the first half of the Natchez game but the Wildcats righted the ship in time to pull out a 20-12 victory.
Meridian overcame a 12-7 halftime deficit getting a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ken Mitts to emerging big-play receiver D.J. Loyd to make it 14-12. Then in the fourth quarter, kicker Andrew Gambrell booted field goals of 35 and 26 yards to give the Wildcats a breathable cushion.
The win moves Meridian to 2-6 on the season and it keeps alive a sliver of hope for a 5A playoff berth. The Wildcats are 1-3 in Region 3-5A with games remaining against Petal, Oak Grove and Hattiesburg.
First-year Meridian head coach Ed Stanley was just gratified to see his team get back in the win column.
Stanley then capsuled the Meridian season-to-date.
A sweep of the last four games would qualify Meridian for the playoffs. Currently, the Wildcats are two games back and in a three-way tie for fifth with Hancock and Petal.
Wayne County (8-0, 4-0) essentially locked up the region crown after beating Oak Grove 28-7 last week in Waynesboro. Oak Grove is now in a three-way tie for second at 3-1 with Brandon and Hattiesburg. The top four teams advance to the 16-team playoffs.
Mitts finished the Natchez game 11-of-19 for 118 yards and the touchdown to Loyd.