By Melissa Meador
AMORY – Last season, Aberdeen quarterback Josh Williams needed until the last second to lead his Bulldogs to an A-Game victory over rival Amory.
On Friday, the junior amped up his passing game early on the way to a 39-13 win in the 77th A-Game. The victory marked the fifth straight for the Bulldogs in this series.
“We’ve been trying to get better with routine throws that I know I can hit,” Williams said. “Tonight we got back and did the little things, and our defense came out and played well behind me.”
Aberdeen got off to a rocky start, fumbling the opening kickoff and not getting past midfield for most of the first quarter. Good field position gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Panthers’ 45 near the end of the quarter, and Jerrick Orr got free for a 28-yard scoring run to give Aberdeen a 6-0 lead.
The two teams exchanged fumbles midway through the second before Williams hooked up with his No. 1 target, Sammie Burroughs, for a 44-yard scoring strike.
Williams led his offense on another march down the field, but the Amory defense made the stop in the red zone to end the half.
“We had some penalties that really killed us in the first half,” Aberdeen coach Mark Bray said. “We made a little change at halftime, and everything started clicking.”
Aberdeen struck for a 21-point third quarter started off by a 71-yard score from Williams to Orr. Williams was 15 of 18 passing for 243 yards.
The Bulldogs capitalized on a pair of Amory fumbles in the third – one leading to a 10-yard scoring run from Williams and the other to a 1-yard score from Josh Ewing.
“We didn’t do a real good job of tackling tonight. We have to get better all around and cut out those turnovers,” Amory coach Ben Ashley said.
Amory QB Fred Garth, in his second game replacing Jon David Poss, who tore his ACL, put the Panthers on the board to start the fourth, finding Zatorious Gates for a 26-yard score. Garth picked up 161 yards on 21 carries.
The two teams exchanged scores to close the fourth. Nick Hodges found the end zone from a yard out for Aberdeen, while freshman Jalen Holland added a 40-yard scoring run for the Panthers.