Special to the Journal
ABERDEEN – Aberdeen head coach Mark Bray isn’t exactly into grabbing any kind of moral victory.
But Friday’s 39-21 loss to defending Class 4A champion Noxubee County did give the Bulldogs some confidence and momentum to build on with district play right around the corner.
Aberdeen (2-2) held a 21-18 lead late in the third quarter only to see the stronger and bigger Tigers score 21 unanswered points to end the game. But the final score was not an indication of how close the game was for three-plus quarters.
“Our kids could’ve gave up and last year we did,” said Bray. “But this year our kids keep fighting and that is the big difference. Our kids know they can play and anytime you have a chance to beat a team like Noxubee County, it gives you some confidence for the rest of the season.”
The first half featured turnovers on both sides with the Bulldogs putting it on the ground three times. Noxubee County’s pressure kept the Bulldogs’ offense off-balanced for most of the night and tallied five sacks in the first half alone. Including a 66-yard run by Aberdeen quarterback Josh Williams, the Bulldogs only rushed for 40 yards and had just three first down in the opening 24 minutes of play.
It was actually the Bulldogs’ defense that helped deliver Aberdeen’s lone points of the first half. Aberdeen’s Tyreke Gates collected an interception and ran it back to the Tigers’ two-yard line.
Two plays later, it was Williams scoring from a yard out to cut Noxubee County’s lead to 10-7.
But the momentum was short-lived, as the Tigers’ Conner accounted for his second touchdown of the night via a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jessie Bryant late in the first half.
Dominant at line
Noxubee County ended the night with nine sacks and held the Bulldogs to just 57 yards rushing. Williams threw for 196 yards with two touchdowns and had one touchdown rushing for Aberdeen.
“They dominated the line of scrimmage,” said Bray. “We couldn’t run the football and that was the big difference in the game. Our quarterback made some good plays scrambling and throwing and the receivers made some big plays. But we never could establish anything on the ground.”