By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
MOOREVILLE – Two teams going in opposite directions, the Daily Journal’s top-ranked Class 3A Aberdeen Bulldogs (8-1, 3-0) notched their eighth straight win in a 46-10 Division 2-3A win Friday night at Mooreville.
The Troopers (6-3, 0-3) have lost three straight, all division games after a 6-0 start.
Andre Jernigan recovered a Mooreville fumble on the game’s first possession and Victor Hodges ran it to the end zone from 19 yards out a play later. Mooreville answered with Matthew Pannell’s 19 yard field goal and it was all Aberdeen to follow.
“A win’s a win, 3-0 is where we need to be,” Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan said. “We played pretty well on both sides of the ball.”
The Bulldogs got two more touchdown runs from Hodges, runs of 8 and 12 yards in the second quarter to take a 20-6 lead at the break.
“They are an outstanding football team, speed, strength, size. They’ve got it all. There’s no weaknesses over there,” Mooreville coach Kevin Austin said. “I knew we’d have to play perfect and them not play their best game and that just didn’t happen tonight.”
Hodges battled strep throat through the week and played with a bruised thigh while finishing the game with 165 yards on 17 carries.
“Their defense was solid, just need to wrap up more and we took advantage of that,” Hodges said. “We’re sitting first (in division) so that’s where we’re trying to stay.”
In the third, Channing Ward picked up the opening kickoff and took it 36 yards to the Aberdeen 41. On the drive he caught a 16 yard pass from Desmond Jones, then a 14 yard touchdown to put Aberdeen ahead 26-14 with 9:14 on the clock.
Two Mooreville punts later, Jones hit Jalen Devauld for 22 yards on second-and-20, a drive that ended with Jones’ 27 yard pass to Aaron McMillian who juked through three defenders for Aberdeen’s fifth score and a 33-3 lead after Antonio Crayton’s kick.
Jones was 10 for 17 with 168 yards and two touchdowns. Mooreville quarterback Griff Loftis, whose father Don played for Aberdeen in the late 70s, threw it 27 times, completing 11 for 114 yards.
“I knew Mooreville would come out and throw the football, something we hadn’t seen a whole lot of,” Aberdeen defensive coordinator Patrick Schoolar said. “I thought we did well against the pass tonight. We got pressure on the quarterback a lot and Demario Wilson had a really nice game for us tonight.”
Seconds after McMillian’s score, Ward forced and recovered a fumble and freshman back Chico Harrison scored from 24 yards out on the next play for a 39-3 lead with 38 seconds left in the quarter
Mooreville found the end zone in the fourth after a high snap on an Aberdeen punt, and battled through two penalties before Josh Johnson ran it in from two yards out with 1:39 left.
After the first Mooreville touchdown, Errick Dillworth nearly tied the game before Pannell’s early field goal, stretching a 4-yard pass inches short of the goal line. Johnson had 65 yards on 15 carries.
Aberdeen answered his touchdown on the kick as Jonnie McMillian broke free on a 70 yard return and a 46-10 lead.
Aberdeen forced five turnovers, one interception going 85 yards for Brandon Smith into the end zone before a block-in-the-back brought it back.
Aberdeen also saw a 70-yard touchdown pass to McMillian called back on a hold in the second quarter.