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Columbus goes to the wire to edge Aberdeen

 

Logan Lowery, Special to The Dispatch

 

ABERDEEN -- In the opener of the 2009 season it took two overtimes to decide the outcome of Columbus and Aberdeen 

 

This year''s rematch also went down as an instant classic as the Falcons'' defensive heroics were again enough to hold off the Bulldogs 8-6 and give first-year head coach Tony Stanford the victory in his debut. 

 

"It''s so important for our program," Stanford said. "We''ve struggled over the last couple of years winning some so we need to get as much confidence as we can. Our kids don''t have a lot (of confidence) but wins is the only way you can get it and we''ll take them any way we can get them. It was sweet." 

 

The teams were locked in a scoreless stalemate for three quarters but the Columbus High defense stood strong on a two-point conversion after the Bulldogs answered the Falcons'' go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter. 

 

Columbus held the Bulldogs to just 13 passing yards and forced four turnovers. 

 

"The defense played well all night," Stanford said. "They bent but they never did break." 

 

The Falcons had 243 total yards, 155 yards passing and 88 rushing. 

 

Columbus lost junior starting quarterback Cedric Jackson last weekend for several weeks after he suffered a high ankle sprain against Brandon in the Fall Football jamboree at Mississippi State''s Davis Wade Stadium, but all was not lost. Randy Brown filled in adequately behind center completing 12-of-21 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown. He also led the ground game with 33 yards on 18 attempts. 

 

"Offensively we were hurting some," Stanford said. "I thought Randy Brown did a heck of a job a quarterback. We turned around and lost our top running back in (Damian) Baker and ended up with a sophomore running back in there, Quan Latham, and I thought he did a pretty good job, too." 

 

Deontae Jones led the receivers with six catches for 101 yards, He also had four rushes for 30 yards. 

 

"I thought Deontae Jones did a greet job running the speed sweep, which opened up some stuff for us in the passing game," Stanford said. 

 

Columbus'' offense busted out of the gate strong, taking the opening possession down to the Aberdeen 14-yard line, but the drive fizzled from there. Michael Sturdivant''s 31-yard field goal attempt was well short. 

 

The game remained scoreless through the next three quarters until the first possession of the fourth quarter when the Falcons finally broke the big play. Brown took the shotgun snap and heaved a pass to a wide open Demarcus Vancy down the left sideline for a 45-yard score. 

 

"We''d seen it early and thought we had the wheel route," Stanford said. "They were all biting hard on the slant and we hit the wheel route down the sideline." 

 

Columbus elected to go for two and Brown hooked up with Jones to go up 8-0 with a little more than 10 minutes remaining. 

 

But the Bulldogs answered with a 56-yard kickoff return by Brandon Smith to the Columbus High 18-yard line. Two plays later, Aberdeen was on the board after quarterback Desmond Jones spun his way through defenders for a 16-yard touchdown. 

 

The Bulldog attempted the two-point conversion to tie the score but Jabari Edwards intercepted Jones'' pass on the goal line. 

 

The Mississippi High School Activities Association defending Class 3A North State Champions had one final shot at the win and were marching with a seven-play drive to midfield, but Jones fumbled and Chris Richardson alertly jumped on the ball to help the Falcons run out the clock. 

 

Aberdeen had 205 total yards, with 192 yards rushing. Jones had 98 yards on 14 attempts and a touchdown but completed just 2-of-10 passes for 13 yards and an interception. 

 

"I think we had four offensive turnovers and drove the ball deep two or three times and didn''t get it in," Aberdeen head coach Chris Duncan said. "We just ran out of steam. We had one running back and wound up having to play a ninth-grader a little bit. I think if we would have had (Smith along with Victor Hodges) we would have had a better shot." 

 

Smith had 17 carries for 67 yards, but Hodges, the starter, missed the game due to suspension. 

 

Patrick Lockett was the Bulldogs'' leading receiver with one catch for 12 yards. 

 

Despite the loss, Duncan was pleased with his team''s effort against the Class 6A Falcons. He feels it will help his squad later in the season. 

 

"Most 3A schools won''t play a 6A school," Duncan said. "It makes us better, and when we get on down the road we feel like we will be in good shape just like we were last year. We feel like we came out and played them well, and we did. I think we are going to be fine." 

 

 

 

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