CALEDONIA – The Aberdeen Bulldogs fell short to the Caledonia Confederates 28-18, handing them their first loss of the season on Friday night.
Youth reared its head for a Bulldogs offense that looked great against Okolona a week ago as turnovers cost Aberdeen the game against the Confederates.
“I don’t know if I did a good job getting them prepared at what they would see,” Aberdeen coach Alex Williams said.
Caledonia runs a triple option on offense that has a lot of moving pieces that can confuse a defense. On its second drive of the game, Caledonia took the ball down the field and scored with ease as Anthony Triplett ran it in from five yards out, capping a 43-yard drive and putting the Feds up 7-0.
It would not take long though for Aberdeen to answer back. With a short field in front of them, the Bulldogs got a nice 11-yard run from quarterback CJ Arnold to start the drive. Three plays later, Arnold found a wide-open Jenari Bell, who powered his way into the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown catch. Caledonia held the lead at the end of the first quarter 7-6.
After a Caledonia fumble gave Aberdeen the ball at midfield, the run pushed the Bulldogs into the 30 yard line. Arnold bootlegged to his right and found a wide-open JaNolan Jones for a 17-yard gain. On the next play, Johnathan Moore took the handoff and 19 yards later found the endzone to put Aberdeen up 12-7 midway through the second quarter.
Caledonia was stopped on its next possession and forced to punt. Tae Johnson returned the punt 70 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a block in the back. Aberdeen’s offense wasn’t able to get anything over and was forced to punt.
On the first play for Caledonia, Darrius Triplett got around the right end and ran down the sideline for a 62-yard touchdown run giving the Feds a 14-12 lead that they would take into the half.
“Punt return there, and we go up 18-7 and have momentum,” Williams said. “Our defense feeds of the energy.”
Aberdeen received the kick to open up the second half and drove the ball down the field on a long drive, led by the running game. Lilton Howard, Xavier Young, Jones and Moore split the carries to put the Bulldogs inside the 10-yard line for a first and goal. On fourth and goal, Arnold found Jones for an 11-yard touchdown pass and an 18-14 lead.
Caledonia though answered again. With momentum seeming to be in Aberdeen’s favor, Caledonia quarterback Brandon Edmondson found an opening in the defense and scampered his way down to the 6-yard line on a 44-yard run. Edmondson got in the endzone on the next play and gave the Feds a 21-18 lead.
On the Bulldogs’ next drive, they moved the ball down the field like they had all game long. On the 19-yard line, the Bulldogs fumbled, and Hayden Baker grabbed it and took it 81 yards to the house for a touchdown and the 28-18 lead, which sealed the victory for Caledonia.
“We preach holding onto the ball, and we have to do a better job at that,” Williams said. “We have to grow up, and we are a young team. I take full responsibility and need to do a better job preparing them.”
Aberdeen will look to rebound on the road against South Pontotoc next week.