September 18, 2010 10:07:00 PM
ABERDEEN -- After starting the season with a disappointing loss to Class 6A Columbus, all is well with Aberdeen High School football coach Chris Duncan.
The Bulldogs, who have outscored their last four opponents 219-24, dropped 61 points on outmanned Okolona here Friday in a 61-6 rout -- the third time this season they have topped the 60-point mark.
"It was another good night," Duncan said. "The stands were full, we played well, and we''ve now won four straight after losing to Columbus (8-6)."
Ever the realist, however, Duncan knows two of those routs came against Class 1A teams, and he has warned his squad, which is in Class 3A and which was the Class 3A runner-up last season, things can turn south rather quickly.
"This time of the year, it''s easy to fall into a trap," Duncan said. "We''ve had four good games in a row, but we can''t afford to get complacent no matter who the opposition is. It''s not so much about who we are playing, it''s about us, and we''ve got to get better every week."
After waiting until just before halftime to break things open last week against county rival Amory, Aberdeen "took care of business" early on thanks to some help from the Chieftains.
"We clicked tonight in all phases of the game," Duncan said.
Johnny Wilson''s 27-yard punt return set up Victor Hodges'' 9-yard touchdown run on the Bulldogs'' first offensive play. Antonio Crayton added the extra point for a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
On Okolona''s second possession, Arirus Jenkins'' punt hit teammate Urell Richardson in the back to give the Bulldogs a first down at the 35, but Aberdeen returned the favor on a fumble by Desmond Jones, which was recovered by Nathan Bailey at the Chieftains'' 19.
Moments later, Aberdeen''s Channing Ward came up with a fumble recovery when quarterback Jordan Ivy coughed up the ball at the Chieftain 17. Hodges responded with his second 9-yard touchdown run. Crayton''s point after made it 14-0 with 51 seconds left in the first quarter.
Hodges'' third 9-yard touchdown run capped a 5-play, 68-yard drive on the Bulldogs'' fourth possession. A 39-yard pass from Jones to Jalen Devauld set the play up.
Okolona''s miscues continued on its ensuing possession, as a high snap over Jenkins'' head on fourth down gave Aberdeen the ball at the visitor''s 16. Jones responded with a 16-yard pass to Aaron McMillian on first down for a 26-0 lead with 6:05 left in the second quarter.
Twenty-three seconds later, it was 34-0 after Brandon Smith, who also had 62 yards on two kick returns, returned a Levaughn Jones'' fumble 38 yards for the Bulldogs'' fifth touchdown. Hodges the added the two-point conversion.
Okolona avoided the shutout when Ivy hooked up with Antwon Grady on an 11-yard strike to cap a seven-play, 65-yard drive with 3:12 left before halftime.
But Aberdeen padded its lead a little more than two minutes later when two pass completions from Jones to McMillian, the first for 19 and the second for 26 yards and a touchdown, along with a Crayton extra-point boot, made it 41-6 with a minute left in the half.
Hodges scored his fourth touchdown on a 20-yard scamper on the Bulldogs'' initial possession of the second half. Crayton added the point after for a 48-6 lead before giving way to the second team.
Working with a running clock, Aberdeen scored twice more, on a 30-yard run by Chico Harrison and on a 29-yard effort by Tevin Jones.
The Bulldogs, who ran just 35 plays, had 205 rushing yards on 25 carries for an 8.2 average per rush. Hodges led the way with 83 yards on a dozen carries with four touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
Jones completed 7 of 10 passes for 135 yards to bring the team''s total yardage figure to 340 yards - a whopping 9.7-yard average per play.
"We executed better and ran the ball well," Aberdeen offensive coordinator Justin Moss said. "Okolona had a hard time matching up with us, and we took advantage of what they gave us."
"Defensively, we had a good effort from everyone who played," said Aberdeen defensive coordinator Patrick Schoolar, whose defenders held Okolona to -8 rushing yards in the first half and to 6 yards on 27 carries -- 13 of which went for no gain or minus yardage.
In addition to the 6 yards on the ground, Okolona picked up 71 yards passing to finish with 77 yards.
"Our defensive backs have been tested these past two weeks, but we were focused tonight and we are getting better," Schoolar said. "We didn''t give up the big play, so I''m satisfied."
As was Duncan, to be sure.
2. Defense has been strong suit for MSU men COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Columbus boys advance in Class 6A tournament HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. New Hope boys win home finale HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
5. MSU women will face biggest test at South Carolina COLLEGE SPORTS