September 29, 2013 1:14:31 AM
ABERDEEN -- Whether you played for or coached under him, there was always a belief instilled in every Bobby Hall-led squad that no matter how far behind, his team would somehow find a way to win.
Corinth coach Doug Jones, a 2001 graduate of Amory High School and a Bobby Hall assistant at Madison Central for six years, said his team is finally buying into that concept. That belief is one of the main reasons the Warriors overcame a 10-point deficit to earn a 30-28 victory against Aberdeen here Friday evening.
"I'm extremely proud of our team," Jones said. "We were behind most of the game, but the kids kept battling, they kept playing, and as a team they did it together."
The Warriors (5-1) had numerous opportunities to pack it in and, for the better part of three quarters, they trailed the Bulldogs -- once by 10 points with less than five minutes to play in the second period. But the Warriors answered every challenge, finally took the lead for good with nine seconds left in the third quarter, and then came up with a pass breakup on a potential game-tying two-point try with 1 minute, 31 seconds left to seal the win.
"Our offense played well tonight and so did our defense," Jones said. "They made the plays when they had to make. And make no mistake about it, we beat a good football team tonight, probably the best 2-4 team in the state."
That tribute provided little consolation to Aberdeen coach Mark Bray, whose team lost for the third-straight week after leading in the third quarter.
"It's the same old thing," Bray said. "We've got unblocked linebackers sitting in the hole who can't make the tackles, and it's killing us."
Turnovers, penalties, and failed extra points also took its toll on Aberdeen.
A false start wiped out Josh Williams' 4-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Burroughs that would have given the Bulldogs a 14-0 first-quarter lead. Several 5-yard illegal procedure penalties also stalled drives in Corinth territory.
Turnover-wise, a fumble at the Aberdeen 41 following a 17-yard pickup early in the third quarter set up a Corinth touchdown. A 90-yard interception return late in the fourth period proved to be the game-winner.
The Bulldogs' inability to convert extra points also cost them. Last week, six consecutive two-point conversion attempts failed in an eight-point loss to Itawamba Agricultural. This week, one missed kick and the aforementioned late-game two-point try proved futile in the setback.
Aberdeen grabbed a 7-0 lead when Derrick Orr latched on to a 57-yard touchdown pass from Williams on the Bulldogs' third play of the game. Demarea Dobbins added the kick.
Two series later following a Tyreke Gates' interception, Williams found Burroughs on a fourth-down 4-yard touchdown toss to cap a 12-play, 69-yard march, but a false start penalty nullified the score and Williams' subsequent pass fell incomplete.
Early in the second quarter, a 44-yard Antares Gwyn touchdown pass to Armad Wicks was called back on an offensive holding penalty, so Corinth had to settle for a 26-yard field goal from senior John Michael McFall.
Minutes later, Burroughs bolted 72 yards on an interception return to stretch Aberdeen's lead to 13-3, but the Warriors responded with a three-play, 76-yard march capped by a 48-yard touchdown burst from Kendrick Williams and a kick by McFall to account for the 13-10 halftime score.
Corinth grabbed its first lead, 16-13, on its second series of the third quarter when 5-foot-3, 170-pound running back Kyoshi Agnew raced untouched from 15 yards, but McFall's point after kick was blocked by Kemar Sims.
Unfazed, Burroughs' 90-yard kickoff return gave Aberdeen a 19-16 advantage with eight minutes left in the third quarter and set up a bizarre 10-minute stretch that featured four penalties and numerous discussions with Jones and his staff. On Burroughs' interception return, Corinth was flagged for a personal foul and Aberdeen elected to take the 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff.
Dobbins then dribbled the point after kick, but the Warriors were penalized half-the distance for running into the kicker. Despite having possession at the yard-and-a-half line, Bray decided to stick with his kicker, but Corinth jumped offside and the ball was moved inside the 1-yard line.
Bray then sent the offensive unit back into the game for a two-point try, but Aberdeen was flagged for a dead ball illegal procedure penalty, so Dobbins came back on the field and connected on the extra point kick to make it 20-16.
Four plays later on an Aberdeen punt return, the Bulldogs were flagged for a hold and a block in the back (only one of which was marked off) and Corinth was hit with a late hit call - all on the same play.
On its next possession, Aberdeen's Josh Hadley tackled Gwyn in the end zone for a safety to give the Bulldogs their last lead, 22-16.
Corinth countered with a seven-play, 62-yard march, all on the ground. Agnew accounted for 56 yards on six carries in the drive and scored his second touchdown from the 2-yard line with nine seconds left in the third quarter. McFall's kick broke the tie and gave the Warriors the lead for good, 23-22.
After an exchange of punts in the fourth period, Aberdeen took over at its 17 and Williams connected with Burroughs on a 51-yard bomb to give the Bulldogs a first down at the Warriors' 32. Four plays later, however, Tanner Maness stepped in front of an Aberdeen receiver at the Warriors' 10 and the junior free safety went 90 yards for what proved to be the winning touchdown. McFall added his third extra point to make it 30-22 with less than five minutes left to play.
Aberdeen made one last bid to tie the game with an 80-yard march, which featured a pass interference call against the Warriors, a 30-yard keeper by Williams, and three pass receptions for 40 yards by Burroughs -- the third of which went for a 12-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-8 with 1:31 remaining. Jose Contreras' pass breakup in the end zone on the two-point pass saved the day for Corinth.