ABERDEEN – Amory’s offense took a quarter and a half to get going on Friday night, but once they did, they were hard to stop on their way to a third-straight A-Game victory over county rival Aberdeen.
The Panthers stayed locked in a shutout with the Bulldogs until the second quarter and led 14-0 at the half but found their spark on the first two possessions of the third quarter to roll to the 47-0 win.
“In the first half, we had been watching film on them all week, and their whole defense was on a whole different scheme. They were running about five or six defensive backs, which really messed us up as far as our scheme,” Amory quarterback Hunter Jones said. “Going into halftime, we were only up 14-0, and we had to get a bunch of stuff laid out to come back and attack them. The third quarter came, and we got good field position and we struck quick. We got the ball back because of a big stop on defense, and then we struck again.”
Just like his team won their third straight, James Spratt had his third big performance against Aberdeen, scoring the first four touchdowns of the night.
“It’s been a really big game for the city of Amory because it’s always a rivalry game, but when you have a dog as a quarterback and you have some dog receivers, that’s what happens,” Spratt said. “It means a lot because this is my last year and you know you won’t get to see them again.”
Both teams opened the game with a three-and-out with Aberdeen’s being stopped by a sack from T.J. Huppert.
The Panthers started moving the ball on their next possession with a couple of runs from Charleston French and Jones and a pass to Braxton Griffin, but JaNolan Jones came up with a stop in the backfield to force another punt.
Amory finally found success on its third drive as Jones first hit Hampton for an 11-yard gain, then French barreled through for a 16-yard run to get into Aberdeen territory. An unsportsmanlike penalty pushed the Panthers forward more, and Spratt hauled in a 12-yard pass from Jones to set up the first touchdown.
Spratt pushed his way into the end zone on a 6-yard run, taking a few defenders with him, to give Amory a 7-0 lead after Bryn Camp’s extra point.
“I can’t say enough about James Spratt and the night he had. He’s played really well against Aberdeen the last three years,” Amory coach Allen Glenn said. “He’s a talented kid, but he’s got a good supporting group around him with Jay (Hampton) and Braxton (Griffin). Then Hunter played really well too, and I thought it was a gutsy performance from all of them, especially in the second half.”
The defense came up with a quick stop, and Braxton Griffin kept the offense clicking with his 43-yard catch to get down to the 9-yard line. Spratt was pushed back for a loss on first-and-goal, but Jones hit him for the 11-yard score on second and goal to go up 14-0.
The Bulldogs picked up a first down with a couple of Jermaine Strong to Tae Johnson connections, but the Amory defense came through with two more stops to send them into the half.
Aberdeen attempted an onside kick on the opening kickoff of the third, which Amory recovered at the Bulldogs’ 48-yard line.
On the second play of the drive, French picked up 18 yards before Jones found Hampton for a 14-yard gain and Griffin for a 13-yard catch to get down to the 2-yard line. Spratt took it in from there to extend the lead to 21-0.
A bad snap and another sack from Huppert gave the Panthers the ball back quickly, and Jones found Spratt down the right sideline, who hauled in the 34-yard touchdown with a defender on his back.
The Panthers finished off the win with a 22-yard touchdown run from Isaiah Brownlee and a 2-yard keeper from Bryce Glenn, which was set up by a fumble recovery from Jaydon Allred.
Freshman Isaiah Smith also found the end zone on a big run in the closing seconds of the game.
Amory’s defense also posted its second straight shutout in the A-Game rivalry, following up last year’s 35-0 win.
“The shutout feels great. We tried our hardest and left it all out on the field, and I feel like we can go more with this and keep it going,” said Huppert, who finished with three sacks. “I think the defense played great, and we made a lot of tackles. We felt like we had something to prove after last week, which was some hard competition, and this week was a hype game and a tough one that we pulled through.”
Jones finished the night 9 of 13 passing for 178 yards in just a little over two quarters of play. Spratt had two catches, both touchdowns, for 45 yards, and Griffin finished with four catches for 75 yards. Hampton had three catches for 41 yards.
“We just made a few adjustments at the half. They were playing a defense that they had not shown, and that’s a credit to them,” Glenn said. “I thought they had a good game plan early on. I credit Coach (Jacob) Massey and the offensive staff with really making some adjustments there at halftime. That was able to really put a spark in us. Defensively, I thought we played well all night. We didn’t give them an inch the whole night. I’m very pleased with that.”
Amory hits the road again next week, facing Ripley.