By Brandon Speck
FULTON – Only Caleb Whittle could have topped Caleb Whittle.
The junior receiver for No. 1 large school Itawamba AHS caught the game-winning touchdown from Vijay Miller with 25 seconds to play for a 43-36 win Friday over No. 2 small school Aberdeen.
“He’s an exceptional athlete,” Itawamba coach Clint Hoots said. “That’s what he does, he makes plays for us.”
He made that play over Memphis-bound Jerrick Orr, yet not even the play of the game. With Itawamba (4-0) trailing 20-14 and less than 10 seconds left in the first half, Miller placed a perfect heave into double coverage to Whittle. Whittle came down with the ball and while being tackled by Orr as the clock expired, pitched to trailing tight end Russell Bunch, who went the final 13 yards of the 65-yard scoring play.
“I just saw Russell streaking across behind me and I just flipped it to him before I got thrown to the ground,” Whittle said.
Sounds simple. Looked made for SportsCenter’s Top 10, the highlight and momentum shift of a game with a lot of them – Hunter White’s 33-yard halfback TD pass to Miller on fourth down, Aberdeen (3-2) QB Tramonte Prather’s four rushing scores, Orr’s catch buried in triple coverage, Bo Sarrie’s 34-yard PAT after the lateral celebration.
“I was sprinting the whole way,” Bunch said. “We communicated and we got the touchdown.”
Turning Point: Whittle went over Aberdeen’s Jerrick Orr for the game-winning TD catch with 25 seconds to play.
Point Man: IAHS back White ran 22 times for 108 yards, two TDs and a TD pass.
Talking Point: “We get off the field on fourth down and it’s a whole different ballgame.” – Aberdeen coach Eric Spann
• Itawamba’s first drive lasted 7 minutes, 7 seconds and resulted in a White touchdown run.
• Twice on kickoff returns, Aberdeen pitched the ball back to speedy Orr.
• Itawamba senior SS Tray Miller was injured and carried off by ambulance with 5:25 left in the game.