By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – Fans, players and coaches at Friday’s Mooreville-Aberdeen game noticed Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen’s presence when a helicopter landed.
Channing Ward announced his presence to everyone in attendance by the 4:03 mark of the second quarter.
The Aberdeen High standout caught a 46-yard touchdown pass from Josh Williams to give his team a 14-13 lead in an eventual 35-20 win.
“I ran like a vertical route where I just bent it a little bit,” said Ward, a very agile 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior.
He certainly made Mullen’s trip worthwhile by slinging down a running back in the backfield for a loss; sacking the quarterback; catching passes (three for 70 yards and two scores); and throwing a bone-crunching block.
Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan has pleaded for Ward – a 2012 Under Armour All-American Game selection – to come out dominating in the second half.
“It’s up to me. I gotta set the tone for my defense and get us going and drive the rest of them to play off me,” said Ward, who’s being recruited by SEC programs such as Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
He did just that by stuffing running back Devonte Williams for a loss of three on the first play from scrimmage, and then forcing a fumble, just two plays later, when he hit quarterback Griff Loftis.
“You gotta know where he is at all times,” said Troopers coach Kevin Austin. “And we kind of game-planned to run away from him and sprint out our (pass) protection away from him.”
To close out Friday’s game, Ward had an 8-yard TD reception off a tight end pop pass with 1:47 to play in the third quarter and then sacked Loftis for an 8-yard loss on a third-down play in the final period.
Less than 48 hours prior, Mullen had called Ward to tell him he was going to fly into Friday’s game.
“Yeah, it was crazy,” Ward said about the MSU coach’s arrival via helicopter.
Check out Channing Ward’s recruiting diary each Friday at NeMissPreps.com with updates on how his recruiting is going.