By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – Channing Ward is accustomed to chasing. Friday night he was chased.
Aberdeen’s five-star defensive prospect rushed eight times for 168 yards and the Bulldogs advanced to the second round of the 2011 MHSAA Class 3A playoffs with a 36-9 win against Velma Jackson.
The win sets up a premiere matchup in round two on the road at Charleston for the two-time defending North champions.
“There’s a lot on the line. Our kids have been in this before. There’s no love lost. We’re excited about it,” Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan said.
Ward scored untouched on Aberdeen’s first play from scrimmage, a 76-yard run. He added a 1-yard catch from freshman quarterback Josh Williams in the third quarter for a 30-3 lead.
After the first touchdown, Velma (6-6) saw a scoring drive slip away after a 70-yard kick return when Demario Wilson recovered a fumble. The Bulldogs drove 89 yards in 2:18 and Justin Lucas ran in a 4-yard touchdown. His second score and second two-point run made it 16-0.
Ward, who also recovered an onside kick, had a 45-yard run on the drive.
“We needed a spark and he’s making plays,” Duncan said. “He broke the game open right at the beginning. They couldn’t tackle him. We’re going to keep feeding it to him .When you’ve got a Dandy Dozen guy, you’ve got to use him this time of year.”
Aberdeen finished with 259 yards on the ground. Levail McFarland had seven carries for 48. Williams was 6 for 11 for 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Bulldogs (7-5) made it 24-0 before the half on Brandon Walker’s 3-yard run and a two-point pass from Jeremy Brandon to Michael Hodges.
Aberdeen has beaten Charleston two straight times, there in 2008 when Ward was a freshman.
“It will be a big environment but we’re just worried about getting to Jackson and winning it this time,” Ward said. “I just do whatever to help the team. It’s a team thing.”
Williams threw his second touchdown of the night in the fourth, finding Brandon from 26 yards away.
Velma Jackson got on the board with Devin Perry’s 27-yard field goal in the second quarter and scored on his 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons’ field goal came after Velma had the ball first-and-goal at the 1 yard line.
“We hate getting scored on,” Ward said. “If a field goal comes out of it, that’s a good stop.”