ABERDEEN, Miss., - In the opener of the 2009 season it took two overtimes to decide the outcome of Columbus and Aberdeen.
This year's rematch would also go down as an instant classic as the Falcons defensive heroics were again enough to hold off Aberdeen 8-6 and give first year head coach Tony Stanford the victory in his debut.
"It's so important for our program," Stanford said. "We've struggled over the last couple of years winning some so we need to get as much confidence as we can. Our kids don't have a lot (of confidence) but wins is the only way you can get it and we'll take them any way we can get them. It was sweet."
The two teams were locked in a scoreless stalemate for three quarters but the Columbus defense stood strong on a two-point conversion after the Bulldogs answered the Falcons go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Columbus held the Bulldogs to just 13 passing yards and forced four turnovers on the evening.
"The defense played well all night," Stanford said. "They bent but they never did break."
The Falcons offense finished with 243 total yards with 155 yards through the air and added another 88 on the ground.
Columbus lost junior starting quarterback Cedric Jackson for several weeks following a high ankle sprain in the jamboree but all was not lost. Randy Brown filled in adequately behind center completing 12-of-21 passing for 155 yards and one touchdown and also led the Falcons ground game with 33 yards on 18 attempts.
"Offensively we were hurting some," Stanford said. "We lost our quarterback last week in the jamboree. I thought Randy Brown did a heck of a job a quarterback for us. We turned around and lost our top running back in (Damian) Baker and ended up with a sophomore running back in there, Quan Latham, and I thought he did a pretty good job too."
Deontae Jones led the Falcon receiving corps with six catches for 101 yards and also added four rushes for 30 yards.
"I thought Deontae Jones did a greet job running the speed sweep for us which opened up some stuff for us in the passing game too," Stanford said.
Columbus' offense busted out of the gate strong taking the opening possession down to the AHS 14-yard line but fizzled from there. Michael Sturdivant came on to try a 31-yard field goal but the kick ended up well short of its intended destination.
The game would remain scoreless over the next three quarters until the first possession of the fourth when the Falcons offense finally broke the big play. Brown took the shotgun snap and heaved a pass to a wide open Demarcus Vancy down the left sideline for a 45-yard score.
"We'd seen it early and thought that we had the wheel route," Stanford said. "They were all biting hard on the slant and we hit the wheel route down the sideline."
Columbus elected to go for two and Brown hooked up with Jones to go up 8-0 with just over 10 minutes remaining.
But the Bulldogs answered right back with a 56-yard kickoff return by Brandon Smith down to the CHS 18-yard line. Two plays later Aberdeen was on the board when quarterback Desmond Jones spun his way through defenders for a 16-yard touchdown.
The Bulldog attempted the two-point conversion to tie the score but Jones' pass was picked off on the goal line by Jabari Edwards preserving Columbus' lead.
The defending Class 3A North State Champions had one final shot at the win and were marching with a seven-play drive down to midfield but Jones fumbled and the ball was alertly jumped on by Chris Richardson of the Falcons, who ran out the remaining clock.
Aberdeen finished the night with 205 total yards with 192 coming via the ground game. Jones finished with 98 yards on 14 attempts and a touchdown but completed just 2-of-10 passing for 13 yards and an interception.
"I think we had four offensive turnovers and drove the ball deep two or three times and didn't get it in," said Aberdeen head coach Chris Duncan. "I'll be honest, we just ran out of steam. We had one running back and wound up having to play a ninth grader a little bit. I think if we would have had (Smith along with Victor Hodges) we would have had a better shot."
Smith had 17 carries for 67 yards but the slated starter Hodge missed the game due to suspension.
Patrick Lockett was the Bulldogs leading receiver with one catch for 12 yards.
Bulldog standout junior Channing Ward finished the game with 22 tackles, a half sack and a pass deflection.
Despite coming up on the losing end Duncan was pleased with his team's effort against the much larger opponent and feels it will only help his squad later in the season.
"Most 3A schools won't play a 6A school," Duncan said. "It makes us better and when we get on down the road we feel like we will be in good shape just like we were last year. We feel like we came out and played them well and we did. I think we are going to be fine."
Columbus - 0 0 0 8 - 8
Aberdeen - 0 0 0 6- 6
CHS- Randy Brown 45-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Vancy (Brown pass to Deontae Jones)
AHS- Desmond Jones 16-yard run (pass failed)
First Downs: 13 10
Rushes: 33-88 36-192
Passing: 155 13
Comp-Att-Int: 12-23-1 2-10-2
Return Yards: 30 62
Fumbles-Lost: 3-1 3-2
Penalties: 7-40 7-35
Rushing: Columbus - Randy Brown 18-33, Deontae Jones 4-30, Quan Latham 5-15, Damian Baker 6-10; Aberdeen: Desmond Jones 14-98, Brandon Smith 17-67, Chico Harrison 4-25, Justin Lucas 1-2
Passing: Columbus - Randy Brown 12-21-155-0, Demarcus Vancy 0-2-0-1; Aberdeen - Desmond Jones 2-10-13-2
Receiving: Columbus - Deontae Jones 6-101, Demarcus Vancy 1-45, James Gunter 1-14, Jalen Buchanan 1-9, Jabari Edwards 1-5, Jamarcus Jones 1-(-1), Randy Brown 1-(-18); Aberdeen - Patrick Lockett 1-12, Jalen Devauld 1-1