August 23, 2014 11:43:19 PM
SHANNON -- The Aberdeen High School football team snapped a five-game season-opening losing streak and gained a measure of revenge in the process with a 42-19 victory against Shannon on a hot, muggy Friday evening.
The Bulldogs, who dropped a 21-14 decision to the Red Raiders a year ago and hadn't won a season-opener since a 46-20 victory against Rosa Fort in 2008, scored on their first possession, but then their high-powered offense went into cruise control until midway through the second quarter when it scored twice to help the team take a 22-12 halftime lead.
Clock-eating touchdown drives on Aberdeen's first three possessions of the second half sealed the deal for coach Mark Bray to give him his first 1-0 record since taking over for Chris Duncan in 2012.
"We were a little sluggish coming out of the gate," Bray said. "Shannon changed up their coverage and pressured us early, but we made a few adjustments and got things straightened out."
Aberdeen quarterback Josh Williams led the way with 157 yards on a 9-for-12 passing effort. He also rushed for 68 yards to account for five touchdowns (two rushing, three passing).
"We started out pretty slow and didn't look good in the beginning, but we got it together and things started clicking for us," said Williams, a four-year starter at quarterback.
Williams was far from a one-man show, as the Bulldogs racked up 375 yards. Five running backs finished with 16 yards or more en route to 218 yards rushing on 51 carries. Five players were on the receiving end of Williams' nine completions.
"My receivers did a great job of getting open, and they're a great group to work with," Williams said. "And after we got things straightened out offensively, the line did a good job to allow our running backs to get us the tough yards when we needed them."
Defensively, Aberdeen also got off to a slow start and had it not been for a pair of Shannon miscues that cost the Red Raiders one touchdown and possibly a second score, the Bulldogs could have faced a two-touchdown deficit late in the second quarter instead of having a 10-point halftime lead.
Shannon had 114 yards rushing the first half and picked up 51 more passing, but Aberdeen's defense limited the Red Raiders to 50 yards rushing and 39 passing in the second half.
"Shannon has some talented running backs and they used them to their advantage." Bray said. "We also had some mental mistakes and some coverage breakdowns early, but we stressed doing things right rather than doing them wrong at halftime, and we had a much better second-half effort."
After forcing a three-and-out on Shannon's first possession, Williams lead the Bulldogs on a seven-play, 52-yard march. Tyreke Gates capped the drive by catching a 19-yard touchdown pass from Williams.
On its second possession, Shannon had a third-and-a-foot from Aberdeen's 29-yard line but was penalized for five players in the backfield. A 1-yard loss and an incomplete pass turned the ball back to Aberdeen at the 35.
A short punt on Aberdeen's ensuing possession gave Shannon a first down at midfield. Two plays later, quarterback Jaylen Pounds found Cameron Montgomery 10 yards behind the nearest defender for what appeared to be a game-tying 47-yard touchdown. But a 10-yard holding penalty wiped out the score and forced Shannon to punt.
Five plays later, J.T. Loving jarred the ball loose from Williams and Davion Fields came up with the fumble recovery. Cameron Montgomery then dodged and darted his way 32 yards for the tying touchdown 46 seconds into the second quarter, but Bart Tompkins' kick was blocked.
Aberdeen regained the lead when Williams capped an 11-play, 62-yard drive with a 3-yard run. He added the two-point conversion for a 14-6 lead.
Shannon responded with a six-play, 65-yard march. Montgomery hauled in a 34-yard scoring strike from Pounds to pull the Red Raiders' within two points of a tie. But Jamarcus Tallie came up with a fumble recovery on a bad pitch on the two-point try to preserve Aberdeen's lead with 3 minutes, 29 seconds to play in the first half.
Three plays later, the Bulldogs wrapped up their first-half scoring when Josh Williams found B.J. Williams wide open in the secondary. The junior wide receiver recovered from a jarring hit by Kenneth Bell inside the 20 and high-tailed it into the end zone to complete the 53-yard play. Williams then hit Gates for the two-point conversion for a 22-12 halftime lead.
Shannon had one last scoring opportunity, but a dropped pass inside the Aberdeen 10. A pass breakup in the end zone by Tramonte Prather denied the Red Raiders once again.
Two time-consuming third-quarter scoring drives sandwiched around a Shavez McMillian fumble recovery extended Aberdeen's lead to 36-12. Josh Williams' 3-yard keeper and a Demarea Dobbins' kick made it 29-12 with 7:59 left in the third quarter. Parish Cratic grabbed a 25-yard toss from Williams in the back of the end zone despite a pass interference call against Tyler Pass. Dobbins' extra point pushed the score to 36-12 with 1:50 left in the period.
Shannon squandered yet another scoring opportunity seconds into the fourth quarter when a Pounds' pass fell incomplete in the end zone, but Aberdeen made it three scores in three second-half possessions. This one was a nearly seven-minute, 11-play, 74-yard march that ended with Prather's 21-yard run with 5:07 remaining.