September 5, 2010 12:20:00 AM
ABERDEEN -- Shock was the operative word Friday following the Aberdeen High School football team''s 34-0 victory against the previously undefeated Pontotoc Warriors.
"I''m shocked by the outcome," Pontotoc High veteran head coach Charlie Dampeer said. "Nobody has challenged us at the line of scrimmage like Aberdeen did, and I don''t remember getting whipped this bad in a long, long time.
"We were outmanned, outgunned, and beaten in every facet of the game. This one was over early, and we were embarrassed and humiliated. As I said before, I''m shocked, and my kids are shocked, too."
Dampeer''s assessment was spot on, as Aberdeen parlayed a smothering defense that held the Warriors to -9 total yards in the first half with an opportunistic offense to build a 27-0 halftime lead.
"I think we finally came to play," said Aberdeen head coach Chris Duncan, who walked hand-in-hand with his players to the Aberdeen sideline prior to the start of the game. "I was well pleased with the play on both sides of the ball, as we had a great defensive performance to go along with a good offensive effort. Good schemes, great execution, and all-around good play makes for a winning effort."
The 34 points aside, it was the defense that set the tone. The Bulldogs gave their offensive mates short-field scoring opportunities no less than three times in the first half.
"It was the best defensive effort I''ve seen in my four years here," AHS defensive coordinator Patrick Schoolar said. "What impressed me the most was we played so well as a unit. It wasn''t just one or two players who made the difference, it was all 11 of them.
"We had good preparation, good concentration, and good practices all week, and this is what happens when all those things come together."
The defense set up the first of five touchdowns when it swarmed punter Jeb Millender at the Warriors'' 18-yard line after a low punt snap on Pontotoc''s opening series.
Three straight running plays by bullish tailback Victor Hodges gave the Bulldogs a first down at the 2-yard line. Quarterback Desmond Jones then called his number for the score less than four minutes into the game. Antonio Crayton''s point after gave Aberdeen what proved to be the only points it would need.
Pontotoc''s second possession netted -2 yards, but this time Millender got the punt off to the Aberdeen 48. Two carries (23 and 9) by Brandon Smith moved the ball to the Warriors'' 20, but a bad snap stalled the drive at the 23.
Quarterback Rashad Dixon fumbled the snap on Pontotoc''s first play, however, and defensive tackle Channing Ward recovered the ball to give Aberdeen a first down at the Warriors'' 23.
Switching to tight end, Ward made a juggling catch for a 9-yard gain, Michael Hodges picked up 7 yards on a pass from Jones, and Hodges carried three straight times, the last one a 1-yard plunge for the score with a little more than two minutes left in the first period. Crayton''s PAT kick was wide.
Pontotoc''s next possession proved to be the same song, third verse, as it was yet another three-and-out.
Taking over on its 33, Aberdeen put together its longest drive, a 10-play, 67-yard march on which Hodges'' number was called seven times, the final one resulting in an 11-yard touchdown jaunt that gave the Bulldogs a 19-0 lead with 8:49 left in the second quarter. The Warriors stopped Hodges on his next carry, however, as the conversion fell short.
Pontotoc''s next three possessions also went three-and-out, but a fumbled punt snap on the third turned into a 15-yard loss and a first-and-goal for Aberdeen after Smith dropped Millender at the Warriors'' 9 with a little more than two minutes left in the half.
"Our snapper is a freshman and our punter is a sophomore and it showed tonight," said Pontotoc defensive coordinator Ben Ashley, a long snapper at Mississippi State and a former assistant coach at Aberdeen under his cousin, Andy Stevens.
Hodges, who rushed for 125 yards on 25 carries, immediately ripped off a 9-yard touchdown run and Jones, despite fumbling the snap from center, added the two-point conversion for a 27-point halftime cushion.
"We couldn''t run it, we couldn''t pass it, and we couldn''t block ''em," Dampeer said, summing up his team''s first-half performance. "We''re not a bad defensive ball team and we can sometimes struggle offensively, but we were just exposed in every facet of the game against Aberdeen."
On eight first-half possessions, Pontotoc''s offense netted 0, -2, 0, -3, -13, 4, -14, and 19 yards for a net loss of 9 yards, as Aberdeen held the Warriors to a -32 yards rushing the first two quarters
After a scoreless third quarter, the Bulldogs tallied their final touchdown to cap a six-play, 50-yard drive when Jones scored from 12 yards on a keeper and Crayton added the kick.