By Brandon Speck/Monoroe Journal
ABERDEEN – A defensive struggle came down to turnovers and a two-point pass as Class 6A Columbus opened the 2010 football season with an 8-6 win at defending Class 3A champ Aberdeen.
Scoreless at the half, Columbus receiver Demarcus Vancy hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass from Falcons’ quarterback Randy Brown, He had taken over for injured starter Cedric Jackson, who was hurt in a jamboree last week.
A fake point after attempt pass from Brown to Deontae Jones made it 8-0 Columbus with 10:02 to play.
Aberdeen responded quickly after Brandon Smith ran the ensuing kick back 56 yards and quarterback Desmond Jones found the end zone from 16 yards away. Jabari Edwards picked off Jones’ two-point pass attempt to keep Columbus (1-0) ahead.
“We had four turnovers and we drove the ball down deep two or three times and didn’t get it in,” Aberdeen coach Chris Duncan said. “I’ll be honest with you, we just ran out of steam.”
Aberdeen’s defense stuffed the run with junior standout Channing Ward making tackle after tackle.
With starting back Victor Hodges sidelined after a school dress code violation on Thursday, Aberdeen rushed for 192 of its 220 yards with Smith going both ways, rushing 16 times for 89 yards. Jones had 12 rushes for 95 yards. Jones finished 2 for 10 with 28 yards passing.
The Bulldogs (0-1) had four turnovers, two picks and two lost fumbles, the final one a controversial called fumble against Jones at the 1:43 mark that allowed Columbus to exhaust the time.
“We play a 6A team, it makes us better when we get on down the road,” Duncan said. “We feel like we played them well. We’re going to be fine.”
Smith, all over the field, even blocked a punt that Fred Ward came down with at the Falcon 49, but Edwards picked off a tipped Jones pass to take the ball back at their own 45. The teams traded fumbles to open the second half.
Both teams missed first half chances to score.
Columbus marched to the Aberdeen 15-yard line on the game’s first drive, but missed a field goal.
Jones was also picked off at the 5-yard line by Quan Latham.
“We’ve struggled the last couple of years. We needed to get as much confidence as we can,” said Columbus coach Tony Stanford. “Wins is the only way get it. We’ll take them any way we can get them. It was sweet. I thought Randy Brown did a heck of a job for us.”
Columbus lost starting back Damian Baker in the first half. He was replaced by sophomore Latham.