By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
ABERDEEN – Aaron McMillian is Aberdeen’s hero.
After a defensive struggle for most of the second half, the 76th A-Game ended in dramatic fashion with McMillian catching the game-winning touchdown with six seconds to go Friday to give Aberdeen a 27-22 win at home over Amory.
“It felt exciting to beat Amory like that,” McMillian said. “Everyone thought it was over, and it just shows you to never give up.”
Aberdeen coach Mark Bray said he was proud of his offense for the way they marched down the field on the final drive.
“Every time we turned around, it seemed like something was going wrong in the second half,” Bray said. “They just kept plugging away and of course made the big play at the end.”
Aberdeen (2-1) took a quick 14-0 lead with Josh Williams throwing touchdown passes of 5 and 64 yards to Justin Lucas and Jeremy Brandon in the first quarter. Williams would find the end zone himself later in the half on a 5-yard keeper.
Dario Robinson’s first catch of the game – a 21 yard pass from Jon David Poss at the beginning of the second quarter – put Amory (2-1) in the end zone.
After a Williams’ fumble, Poss would hook up with Devin McIntosh for a 65-yard TD strike to put Amory within seven.
Williams appeared to widen the lead with two minutes to go in the first half on a 61-yard run, but the play was called back on an illegal block.
Making it close
The Panthers struck first in the second half after a short Aberdeen punt put them at the Bulldogs’ 25 to set up Jaylon Fair’s 12-yard scoring run three minutes into the half. Fernando Sanchez’s 27-yard field goal with four minutes left in the third quarter gave Amory its first lead of the game by just a point.
Aberdeen’s offense took over in the last four minutes, however, marching down the field in a drive that ended in Williams’ 21-yard game winner to McMillian.
“He just got open, and we didn’t make the play,” Amory coach Trent Hammond said. “They drove it down the field on us, and that’s a big deal for them.”
Poss, a first-year starter taking over for 55-TD man Forest Williams, passed for 130 yards with two TDs and two picks.
Bray credited new Amory defensive coordinator Patrick Schoolar, who held the same position at Aberdeen, with the Panthers’ defense holding the Bulldogs so far in the second half.
“He’s a great coach,” Bray said. “He picked up on things and really got it to his kids.”