ABERDEEN – Faced with a matchup with 3A favorite Louisville next week, Aberdeen needed a big performance from its offense this Friday against Kemper County.
The Bulldogs piled up a 27-6 halftime lead and cruised to a 39-22 win behind a five-touchdown night from junior QB Josh Williams.
“We did all the little things right tonight and got back on track like we needed to. This was a big game for us and a momentum builder we needed going into next week,” Williams said after his big night. “We know it's going to be a tough game against Louisville, but we're going to play hard and just play our game of football.”
Aberdeen coach Mark Bray was pleased with his team's offensive performance as well.
“We did pretty much what we wanted to on offense the whole night. Defensively, we just didn't stop the pass,” said Bray, whose defense gave up a pair of passing TDs to Kemper County in the second half.
Aberdeen (4-4, 2-0) went three-and-out on its opening possession of the game, but that would be one of the only times the Bulldogs wouldn't find the end zone in the first half.
Kemper County marched down to the Aberdeen 6 on its first possession of the game, but the Bulldogs' defense came up with a stop on fourth-and-goal.
Williams and the Bulldogs' offense took over on an eight-play, 94-yard drive that ended with him hooking up with Jerrick Orr for a 35-yard score to get on the board.
Kemper County marched into the red zone again, but a Kelvin Bourrage fumble handed the Bulldogs the ball back again at the 19. Williams led the offense down the field again, aided by a 23-yard run from Donta Carter and a 16-yard run of his own, and found B.J. Williams in the back of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown. It wouldn't take long for Aberdeen to put more points on the board again. On the second play of their next drive, Sammie Burroughs shook off a hard hit from a Wildcat after a catch and kept going for a 66-yard touchdown pass from Williams.
“I'm still shaken up from it right now,” Burroughs joked after the game. “When the ball was in the air and I saw the safety coming over, I knew I was going to get hit. I figured I might as well catch the ball and take the lick.”
“That's just Sammie making that big play again for us. That's what we always can depend on him for,” Bray added.
Williams added a 15-yard scoring run with two minutes to go before the half, and Kemper County answered with its lone score of the first half when Bourrage hooked up with Devontae Vickers for a 10-yard touchdown.
The two teams exchanged possessions in the third quarter but were unable to find the end zone until a 31-yard scoring run from Tyler Fields on Aberdeen's second possession of the second half, a three-play, 52-yard drive.
Bourrage threw his second touchdown pass of the night, this a 34-yarder to D.J. Clayton, and ran for the two-point conversion, but the Bulldogs' answered with Williams' 12-yard score, his second on the ground.
Williams finished with 152 yards on the ground and passed for another 134 yards and three scores.
Bourrage closed out the scoring, hitting Dondre Andrews for a 56-yard score with 6:54 left, but the Wildcats were unable to cut the lead any closer.
Burroughs credited a strong running game with helping the Bulldogs' offense click on Friday.
“The running game really helped us out to open things up for the pass. Everything was working really well on offense tonight,” he said.
While just the third division game, next week's trip to Louisville will be a fight for the division title between the two 2-0 teams in 4-3A. The Wildcats are currently 8-0 with all double-digit wins this season.
“We have a big, big challenge ahead of us. They're undefeated in the division and so are we, and we're going to see what happens,” Bray said.
Burroughs named it as the game he's been waiting for all season.
“It's going to be the game of the year. I'm definitely ready for it,” he said.