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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
September 4, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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September 4, 2019

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j rter September 4, 2019 MARY PERSONS BULLDOGS 281 Tift College Drive Forsyth, GA 31029 WE HAVE IT COVERED IF IT'S PLAYED HOME , :i i : 4:30 p.m. JV Softball Ivs. Rutland) 5:00 p.m. C'Team Football Varsity Softball (vs. Rutland) uNsi Y, 5 5.'00 p.m. C,Team Softball {vs, Station) I Y, 6 7:30 p.m. Varsity Football (vs. Morrow) Mary Persons senior Rico Harden broke free from a Jackson defender and continued 41 give MP a memorable 36-29 home victory over the Red Devils at Dan Pitts Stadium on yards for a game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left to Friday. (Photo/Kim Holderfield) SA1URDAY, 7 Varsity, JV 8, C-Team Cross Country (Bulld0g Distance Cla c Monroe Co. Rec Dep!,) 1WSDAY, !0 4:30 JV Softball (vs. Perry) 6.~ p.m. Varsity Softball Ivs. Perryl 'senior By Richard Dumas The Mary Persons Bull- dogs achieved one of their most memorable wins in recent history with a 36-29 victory over rival Jackson at Dan Pitts Stadium on Friday. In a heart-stopping, instant classic, the Bulldogs prevailed on a 41-yard, fourth-down touchdown run by senior superstar Rico Harden, narrowly holding off an improbable Jackson second-half come- back in the 77th edition of the Backyard Brawl. MP led 29-7 late in the third quarter before a furious Jackson rally resulted in 22 straight points and a 29-29 tie. MP got the ball back with 4:59 to play and con- verted a pair of first downs by the nose of the football before Hardens heroics sent a capacity Mitchell Field crowd into hysterics. The Bulldogs won despite the Red Devils running 33 more plays from scrim- mage than MP (71 to 38), dominating in first downs 19 to 5 and edging MP in total yardage 387 to 343. But it was Hardens brilliance that kept the Bulldogs in front for most of the night. The senior tailback, who also played nearly every snap on defense and special teams, overcame late game calf cramps to rush for a team- high 149 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. He was also MP's leading receiver with four recep- tions for 85 yards, includ- ing a 77-yard TD. Friday's win came one week after the Bulldogs lost 27-21 at Gainesville in their season opener, getting dominated at the line of scrimmage in the process. MP head coach Brian Nel- son said he knew that his Bulldogs would respond admirably. "I did something last week after that game that I've never done" Nelson star scores game-winning TD with said. "I usually just let them sit around, and I talk as they're getting undressed or whatever. But I lined everyone up. Everybody had to be in front of me. I wanted to see everybody's eyes. I said, 'This is our plan, and this is what we're gonna do. And we've gotta keep getting better.' They bought into it, and we had a great week of practice. Everybody's attitude was great. Their focus was great. And they bought into the fact that this team is just gonna have to keep getting better. Does that always mean you're gonna win? No, but we've just gotta keep showing marked improvement. For the most part tonight I thought we looked like a better team than we did last Friday night" The Bulldogs certainly looked like a better team in the early going against Jackson, outscoring the Red Devils 19-0 in a dominant first quarter. MP went three-and-out on its opening drive, but Trippe Moore's punt was muffed by the Red Devils and recovered by MP's Dennis Swain at the Red Devils' 45-yard-line, enabling the Bulldogs to keep posses- sion. Three plays later, MP found the end zone for the first time when Harden burst up the middle, jump cut to his left to elude the Red Devils' free safety and smoothly glided across the goal line for a 26-yard TD. Julian Rivera's extra point try doinked off the right post, so the Dogs took a 6-0 lead with 8:44 left in the first period. After a Jackson punt, MP started at its own 20-yard-line, and it took just one play for the Dogs to add to their lead. Quarterback Malikk Har- ris handed off to backup tailback William Stew- art on a draw to the left. Stewart exploded through a hole on the left side and sprinted away from Jackson's secondary for an 80-yard touchdown run with 6:21 left in the first quarter. Harris' two-point pass attempt was thrown errantly out of bounds, and the Bulldogs maintained a 12-0 lead. With quarterback Josh Scott and running back Alex Patrick alternat- ing taking snaps, the Red Devils mounted a 12-play drive into the Bulldogs' red zone on Jackson's ensu- ing possession. However, the Bulldogs held the Red Devils scoreless when run- ning back Jalen Medlock fumbled at MP's 12-yard- line, and the ball was scooped up by MP's Adrian Hughley and run back 10 yards. Three plays later, MP added to its advantage when Harris connected on a throwback screen pass to Harden in the left flat on the final play of the first quarter. The senior tailback turned on the jets and split a pair of Jackson defensive backs en route to a 77-yard touchdown, the first TD pass of Harris' brief MP career. Rivera's extra point put MP ahead 19-0 head- ing into the second period. Jackson's offense held onto the ball on the Red Devils' next possession, marching 80 yards on 13 plays while eating up 6:04 of clock, a theme that con- tinued over the course of the game. Patrick, alternat- ing between quarterback and running back, rushed seven times on the drive for a total of 47 yards, cap- ping the series with a two- yard TD run up the gut off of a direct snap. An extra 19 secs left to beat Jackson MARY PERSONS KETrERBAUGH JUNGBERG FINANCIAL GROUP OF WELI~ FARGO ADVISORS 14o5 Bass Road Macon, GA 478~49-68t9 Wells Fargo Addsors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SlPC point narrowed MP's lead to 19-7 with 5:56 left in the second quarter. Both teams went three- and-out on their next series before the Bulldogs' offense made its most criti- cal miscue of the contest, Harris fumbled on a third- and-long run, and the ball was recovered by Jackson's Trey Butler at the Dogs' 24-yard-line with 1:57 left before halftime. However, MP's defense held and forced a field goal try, and Harden, seemingly doing everything, blocked the 30-yard attempt with 49 seconds left in the half to preserve a 19-7 Bulldogs' lead through two quarters. Getting the ball to start the second half, Jackson looked to cut into MP's lead, but Dogs' senior linebacker Wyatt Currie sacked Scott on third down to force a punt. Three plays later, Harden took a draw to the left and ran for 50 yards with his quarter- back, Harris, lead blocking down field. But Jackson's defense stiffened in the red zone, and MP settled for a 33-yard Rivera field goal to stake the Dogs to a 22-7 lead with 5:55 left in the third quarter. Things got worse for Jackson on its next pos- session. On the fourth play from scrimmage, Patrick fumbled, and MP linebacker Andre Jackson, making his first start on defense, recovered the loose ball amidst a swarm of jerseys and returned the fumble 42 yards for a Bulldog touchdown. Rivera's point-after put MP in front 29-7 with 4:14 left in the third quarter, and it momentarily appeared a third consecutive Backyard Brawl rout was on. But with the two squads more evenly matched this time around, the Bulldogs were unable to pull away. Mixing in Scott's passing with Patrick's running, the Red Devils marched 57 yards on seven plays, capped by another two- yard TD run up the middle by Patrick to pull the Red Devils to within 15 at 29-14, following the extra point with 2:05 left in the third period. After an MP three-and- out, Jackson's offense went back to work terrorizing a tiring Dogs' defense. Scott hooked up with favorite target Anthony Hender- son for 36 yards on the first play of the drive. Five plays later, he found burly tight end Dylan Cody on a 23-yard pass just inside the right sideline to move the Red Devils into the MP red zone. Moments later, Patrick ran a Wildcat draw to the right, bounced it out and followed his block- ers into the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown to cap a 9-play, 92-yard drive. An extra point with 7:58 left in the game narrowed the Red Devils' deficit to eight at 29-21 and caused MP fans to worry for the first time. Jackson head coach Dary Myricks, seeking his first win over MP, then got ag- gressive and called for an See MP FOOTBALL . Page 4B