December 6, 2009 1:02:00 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
JACKSON - It took only 2 minutes, 47 seconds for the Aberdeen High School football team to leave Tylertown shell-shocked.
The Chiefs needed only 11 seconds before halftime to deliver a counter punch that ultimately proved to be even more devastating.
Jameon Lewis'' 75-yard touchdown pass to Ken Brown with 15 seconds to go before halftime shifted the momentum and was part of a run of 34 unanswered points that propelled Tylertown to a 34-20 victory in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A state title game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
"That play changed the game," Brown said "We executed after that and the momentum changed."
The play was "98 Fade." It came one play after an Aberdeen fumble on the Chiefs'' 29 that helped turn the tide.
Trailing 20-7 and facing a first-and-10 from their 25 with 26 seconds left before halftime, Lewis (6-for-8, 155 yards) dropped back, had protection, and fired deep down the right sidelines. With one-on-one coverage down the right sideline, Brown had a step on his defender and took a perfectly placed throw over his shoulder and raced the final 30-40 yards. Logan Conerly''s extra point made it 20-14 with 15 seconds remaining in the quarter.
"After turnover after turnover, we finally settled down and started playing," Tylertown coach Walter Denton said. "We knew if we could get one in the first half - maybe two in the first half - that we would be back in it."
Denton said the receivers, quarterbacks, and receivers go out 15 minutes before every practice and work strictly on throwing the football. He said the Chiefs didn''t need to throw the football a lot this season en route to a 15-0 finish, but that play showed Tylertown can throw the ball when it wants to - and when it has to.
Brown, whose nickname is "NaNa," agreed and said Lewis typically is as accurate in practice as he was on that touchdown pass.
"I have a great quarterback," Brown said. "We have been playing together ever since Pee Wee."
Lewis, whose father, Roy Walker, played defensive back at LSU in 1995, said he told Jawon Jackson to run a fade pattern, too. He said he looked at Jackson to get the safety to roll his way and then looked back to Brown.
"It was a shock (being down 20-0) because we never thought they were going to get up that much," Lewis said. "But we kept our composure and told the players we are still in the ballgame and we are never going to give up. We didn''t give up against the Class 6A teams, and we didn''t give up against the Class 4A teams, so we know we weren''t going to give on a Class 3A team. We just had to come out and play ball, and that''s what we did."
Aberdeen (13-3) clicked on all cylinders at the start. After a 46-yard rush by Lewis (27 carries, 88 yards), the Chiefs turned the ball over on a fumble exchange that Fred Ward recovered. Jamerson Love (13 carries, 131 yards) broke a 51-yard gain to turn the momentum and give the Bulldogs a first down at the Chiefs'' 14. Victor Hodges then bulled his way for a 14-yard touchdown. The conversion failed to make it 6-0.
Aberdeen held Tylertown to three and out on its next series and needed only 27 seconds to make it 12-0. Hodges took a direct snap for 17 yards and Love went another 34 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Aaron Andrews was sacked on the conversion attempt.
Channing Ward and Anthony Bean and Decedrick Quinn combined on sacks on the first two downs of Tylertown''s next series. Quinn then forced a fumble on third-and-27 that Ward recovered to give the Bulldogs the ball at the Chiefs'' 23. Four plays later, Hodges scored from 9 yards (8 on the official score sheet) on a drive that lasted 1:44. Andrews found Erik Buchanan on the conversion pass to make it 20-0 with 3:53 to play in the first quarter.
"We had as good a first half as you can except for the final two minutes," Duncan said.
Aberdeen had an opportunity to keep the momentum, even after Lewis scored on a 2-yard run to help make it 20-7 with 2:06 remaining before halftime.
Andrews, who reaggravated an ankle injury in the North Half State title victory last week against Booneville, hit Mario Lucas with a nice touch pass that went for 30 yards. He then hit Buchanan on a quick strike to the right, but Buchanan fumbled to give the ball back to Tylertown.
"We knew we could stop them if we could just tackle them and start playing a little bit," Denton said. "We were shell-shocked in the first quarter. I thought they were going to blow us out, but the kids stepped up and did a good job."
One play later, Tylertown responded with the play that turned the game.
"It knocked them out right there," Denton said. "We saw a little air go out of them. They had an opportunity to go up and probably ice it on us, but our kids stepped up and made a play. You just saw their kids go flat. Like I said, we pounded it on them pretty good (58 rushes, 186 yards). We felt like we were going to be more physical than they were, and, in the end, we thought we could wear them down."
Lewis hit Jackson with a 10-yard touchdown pass and Conerly added the extra point to give the Chiefs a 21-20 lead with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
Lewis tacked on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Brown in the fourth quarter, but Conerly missed the extra point to leave the door open at 27-20 with less than eight minutes remaining.
Aberdeen converted a third-and-12 from its 15 on a 20-yard pass play from Andrews to Buchanan. Following an incompletion, Andrews found Lucas over the middle for a big gain that was called back due to a chop block.
A facemask penalty by Aberdeen helped give Tylertown a key first down on the Chiefs'' next drive. Tylertown faced a fourth-and-1 from the Bulldogs'' 16 with 2:53 to go, but Lewis bounced it out to the left and scored from 16 yards to all but wrap it up.
On the next series, Andrews found Buchanan on a 52-yard pass play to move the Bulldogs to the Chiefs'' 29 with a little more than two minutes to play, but a sack, two incompletions, and a sack by Dameuntez Magee ended Aberdeen''s title hopes.
"We lost it right before halftime and after that we never regained it," Duncan said. "We wanted to come back and establish the running game, but we weren''t able to do that. Offensively, we really were sputtering in the second half. They had some long drives on our defense and made plays when they needed to make them."
Said Buchanan, "In the beginning, everyone came out ready to do what they had to do. Everybody was hype and ready to play and to show everybody what we had. It just fell apart. Every time we tried to pick it up back it never happened."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.