September 26, 2009 10:04:00 PM
ABERDEEN -- The Houston High School football team made a game of it for the first five minutes here Friday in a non-division matchup. But the rest of the night proved to be a long one for the Hilltoppers, as Aberdeen scored 73 unanswered points and rolled to a 73-7 victory at Lester Miley Stadium.
Outmanned, outplayed and outgunned, the Hilltoppers stunned the Bulldogs when sophomore Devoris Ivy took the opening kickoff and scampered 80 yards to pay dirt. Houston added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
"We started off a bit sluggish," said Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan, who watched his team surrender the touchdown and then had to waste a timeout on the Bulldogs'' second offensive play. Throw in a pair of incomplete passes, the second of which was almost intercepted, and Duncan''s description of the first few minutes were right on target.
Undaunted, Aberdeen responded with an offensive onslaught the likes of which have rarely been seen on its home field to take a 53-7 halftime lead.
Aberdeen also had three touchdowns called back because of penalties.
Four plays after the aforementioned incompletions, Aberdeen scored the first of its 10 touchdowns when quarterback Aaron Andrews found Mario Lucas in the end zone for a 41-yard scoring strike.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good when Andrews rolled right and threw back across the field to a wide open Erik Buchanan in the end zone for the two-point conversion and an 8-7 advantage with 9 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first quarter.
Houston answered with a five-minute, 13-play drive that started and ended on the 16-yard lines. A high snap from center on fourth-and-3 resulted in a 9-yard loss that ended the Hilltoppers'' longest march of the game.
On the next play, Aberdeen''s Jamerson Love bolted 75 yards for a touchdown, only to have it nullified by a block in the back penalty. Backed up to the 15, Andrews ran for 5 yards and then found Lucas on a 58-yard strike to give the Bulldogs a first down at the Houston 22.
Love got his touchdown back on the next play off a short toss from Andrews and, thanks to Buchanan, who made two blocks. Andrews'' pass to Buchanan increased the lead to 16-7 with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
Dezmond Jones gave Aberdeen a third scoring opportunity when he recovered a Shawn Wright fumble near midfield to set up a 53-yard touchdown run by Love one play later, but a holding penalty cost him yet another touchdown.
Five plays later, an Andrews to Rashad Pargo toss for 27 yards gave Aberdeen its third touchdown nine seconds into the second quarter. Andrews'' conversion made it 24-7.
On the ensuing series, Aberdeen forced a Ben Uhiren punt that Rashad Bates returned 40 yards for a touchdown, but a penalty wiped out that score.
Two plays later, Andrews and Lucas hooked up again on a 46-yard pass-run play for the score. A short toss to Jalen Devauld for the conversion made it 32-7 with 10:09 left in the second quarter.
Yet another block in the back cost Bates a 23-yard punt return moments later, but the Bulldogs scored anyway when Andrews flipped a 38-yard pass completion to Devauld and then scored from 14 yards out with 6:50 left before halftime. Love added the two-point conversion off a direct snap to make it 40-7.
A three-and-out series for Houston and a punt by Uhiren backed the Bulldogs up to their 15, but a 46-yard scamper by Love, a 17-yard run by Victor Hodges, and a 22-yard touchdown toss from Andrews to Buchanan made it 46-7 with 4:40 left in the half.
Houston gave Aberdeen one last scoring opportunity following yet another defensive stand, and this time it took just two plays -- the second of which was a 23-yard run by Love, followed by a Pargo extra point for the 53-7 halftime score.
With a running clock and the Aberdeen starters on the bench, the Bulldogs added three touchdowns in the second half to account for the final count.
A Devauld interception return to the Houston 6 set up a first-down touchdown run by Hodges with 6:10 left in the third quarter, followed by a Pargo point-after kick for a 60-7 advantage. Hodges led all rushers with 127 yards on seven carries.
A pair of 12-yard runs by Hodges, a 39-yard keeper by Jones, and a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Justin Lucas made it 66-7 three plays into the fourth quarter.
A a 44-yard scamper by Hodges helped set up Aberdeen''s final touchdown -- a Jones'' 21-yard keeper late in the fourth quarter. Pargo''s point after kicked ended the scoring.
Andrews turned in the best game of his career with an 8-for-13 passing performance for 266 yards and five touchdowns in just one half of play. He also picked up 58 yards rushing and one touchdown.
Love averaged 27.7 yards per carry on just three carries, all in the first half. He also lost 128 yards and two touchdowns because of two penalties.
As a team, the Bulldogs amassed 601 total yards, 266 passing for a 33.3 average and added 335 yards on the ground for an average of almost 14 yards per carry.
In competition against teams from Chickasaw County the past two weeks, the Bulldogs have scored 116 points - 43 against Okolona last week and 73 versus Houston.
"I think our offense is back on track," Duncan said. "We''re starting to make some plays and we got to use all the tools at our disposal tonight. I''m pleased."
Duncan also was impressed with his team''s defensive effort.
"Defense wins championships, and our defensive play has been a positive for us the last couple of years," Duncan said. "That was the case tonight. We gave up less than 40 yards the first half, and you can''t do any better than that."
The Bulldogs allowed 33 total yards the first half, 7 on the ground on 20 carries and 26 passing. Houston had just 54 yards - 18 rushing and 36 passing for the game.
Aberdeen''s effort left Houston coach Buz Boyer practically speechless.
"There''s really nothing I can say," said Boyer, in his third year at Houston. "We got beat by a real good football team. Now, all we can do is find out who''s healthy and regroup."
Aberdeen will play host Winona next week in its first division game of the season.