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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
November 13, 2019     The Monroe County Reporter
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November 13, 2019

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is Rep“”'"orter ' S P01”. WE HAVE IT COVERED IF IT'S PLAYED Dogs’late rally locks up playoffs MP overcomes l4-point toUrth quarter deficit to down region rival Howard By Richard Dumas torsyth©mymcrnet The Mary Persons Bulldogs overcame rain and a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to outlast Howard 45-38 in a memorable shootout at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex in Macon on Thursday. The victory sent the Bulldogs, 5-5 overall (3-2 in Region 2—AAAA), to the AAAA state playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, including eight straight under current head coach Brian Nelson. MP, the No. 3 seed from Region 2-AAAA, will travel to Eastside (Covington), 7-3 overall (6-1 in Region 4—AAAA), the No. 2 seed from Region 4-AAAA. MP has won at least one state playoff game in each of Nelson’s seven previ- ous seasons. Nelson said MP’s comeback win on Thursday ranks among the biggest wins of his eight- year head coaching career: “We’ve won some big games but in terms of everything that’s gone on this year, this is up there. I told them (MP players) after the game, ‘We’ve had some really good teams here, but I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud of a team than this team tonight.’ Just a great job by everybody, coaches, players. I’m really happy” MP senior Rico Harden played perhaps the finest game of his two-year Dogs’ career, scoring a total of five touchdowns, three on the ground and two through the air. Harden led the Bulldogs in rushing with 66 yards and three touchdowns on 16 car- ries and receiving with 132 yards and two scores on three receptions. He also returned a kickoff for 38 yards and retumed an interception 65 yards. Harden said Nelson chal— lenged him to do a better job leading the team. “My head coach talked to me before the game and told me he needed me to put the team on my back,” Harden said. “So that’s what I did. I went out there and put the team on my back. I had a few little minor injuries here and there, but I had to fight them off and come out with a W’ Nelson said Harden’s perfor- mance was one of the greatest individual nights in MP’s sto- ried history. “That’s the best he’s played? Nelson said of Harden. “He’s always got that capability. When he gets in that mindset, he’s unbelievable. He got in that mindset against Jackson and then he got there again tonight. Defense, interception, interception return, kickoff return, catch, run, he gets in this mode where he just goes and he wants the ball all the time.” Needing a win to guaran- tee itselfa playoff spot, the Bulldogs started off Thursday’s contest with a score before many fans even had time to sit down. MP’s Adrian Hughley returned the opening kickoff 60 yards down to the Howard 20—yard—line. Two plays later, MP quarterback Logan Hickman threw a short pass to Harden in the right flat. The senior running back did the rest, making a hard cut to elude one Huskies’ defender and then exploding through a hole for a 20~yard touchdown. ts November l3, 20l9 Tripp Shipman’s extra point eighth time in 10 contests in taken a double-digit, first- put MP in front 7-0 just 44 2019 that the Bulldogs have half lead. See MP FOOTBALL Page AB seconds into the game. After a Huskies’ three—and- out, Hickman com leted a39—yardturmelsc1r3eento Trippe Moore to move the , v.12. I' 1: ‘: I cf g; :1; Dogs to the Howard 10—yard— ' i r J V . line. However, after Hickman ' failed to connect with Moore 1n the back right comer of the Investment genius Since 1890 end zone on thud down, MP Chanin Jungberg Ketterbaugh Wealth Advisory Group was forced to try a field goal. 577 M lb . 12 Shipman, in just his second u erry , treet’ ulte 00 game as the starting kicker, Macon, Georgla 31201 nailed a 23-yard try with 7:04 47 8-803-9342 left In the first Period ‘0 Put ' ‘Jasdn‘JungbeI-g‘, AAMS’” Senior Vice manna, airtime > MP ahead 10-0. It was the 2,.“ MARY PERSONS BULLDOGS &StateI-'arm , 281 Tift College Drive - Forsyth, GA 31029 478-992-9945 Hours: Monday Friday, 9 am 5:30 pm MP all-purpose star Rico Harden, taking a handott from QB Logan Hickman, accounted for 30l total yards in the Dogs’ 45-38 win at Howard on Thursday. (Photo/Donn Rodenroth) But MP’s advantage was short-lived on Thursday After a failed MP onside kick attempt, Howard got the ball at the Dogs’ 49-yard-line. Three plays later, Howard quarter— back Jaylon Clark rolled left and found tight end Win Davidson free behind MP’s secondary for a45-yard touch- down with 5:44 left in the first quarter. Elizabeth Rodenroth’s extra point trimmed MP’s lead to three at 10-7. MP’s offense then drove to Howard’s 30-yard-line, where the Bulldogs faced a 4th- and-Z. Harden took a direct snap out of the wildcat forma— tion, but was stopped one yard shy of the first down marker, giving Howard the ball back The Huskies then ate up more than five minutes of clock, marching 71 yards on 11 plays, 10 on the ground. Running back Javarsia Meadows lined up in'the slot before racing to take a draw from Clark and scampering four yards into the end zone for a Huskies’ touch- down. Rodenroth’s extra point with 9:47 left in the second quarter gave HoWard its first lead at 14—10. MP V5. EASTSIDE Friday, Nov. 15 o 7:30 pm. Homer Sharp Stadium 0 Tickets: $8 lAST MEEiINe N/A. PREDICTION: Eastside 27, Mary Persons 24 www.mymcrnet The Mary Persons competition cheerleading team, coached by Kyle Ward (far right), captured its third straight Region 2-AAAA championship, defeating region rivals Perry and West Laurens at Houston County last Saturday. The Cheer Dogs will compete at the AAAA state meet in Columbus at 9 am. on Saturday. See Page 3B for more coverage. (Photo/Mary Persons Twitter) .I Dogs to face Eastside (Covington) in first round state playoff game By Richard Dumas forsyth©mymcrnei For the first time since 2011, the Mary Persons Bulldogs will open the AAAA state playoffs on the road when they travel to Eastside (Covington) for a first round showdown at Homer Sharp Stadium at 7:30 pm. on Friday. The Bulldogs, 5-5 overall (3-2 in Region 2-AAAA), qualified for the state playoffs as Region 2-AAAA’s No. 3 seed thanks to a dramatic 45-38 road win over Howard on Thursday. Eastside, 7-3 overall (6-1 in Region 4-AAAA), clinched the N0. 2 seed from Region 4-AAAA by pounding Hampton 37-7 at home on the same night. The Bulldogs and Eagles have never met on the gridiron. Eastside has won three region titles in its program’s 24-year history, including the first perfect regular season in Newton County football history in 2018. The Eagles have advanced at least to the state quarterfinals on three occasions, includ— ing last year when Eastside was ousted u 42-15 in the AAAA playoffs by eventual state champion Blessed Trinity. Eastside is led by head coach Troy Hoff, who has a 41-13-1 mark since 2015. Eastside’s lone NFL player and most famous football alum is New Orleans Saints’ defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. The Eagles opened 2019 with back—to— back non-region losses, 58-21 at AAAAA Ola and 42—7 against AAAAAAA Newton. However, Eastside has bounced back with seven wins in its last eight games, starting with a 42-28 road win over AAAAAA Alcovy on Sept. 6. All six of Eastside’s region wins came by at least 21 points. The Eagles recorded wins over North Clayton (39-2), Luella (21-0), Salem (45-6), Druid Hills (42—0), McDonough (55—20) and Hampton (37-7). Eastside’s lone region defeat came on Oct. 11 when the Eagles were hammered 49-7 at home by undefeated Woodward Academy, the eventual Region 4-AAAA champion. The 2019 Eagles’ offense is led by senior quarterback Noali Cook, who has passed for 1,648 yards on 60 percent comple- m ‘ Mitt}. flat", I, . sir". i w taint at: ‘ its ‘ i2 Wait" ' tions for 15 touchdowns and 3 intercep- tions. Cook was a second-team all-state performer in 2018 when he passed for 25 touchdowns. Cook has lots of options at receiver as six Eagles have caught at least 10 passes. Eastside’s leading receiver is senior Jeffery Haynes, who has caught a team-best 21 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns. Haynes is also a big threat in the return game, averaging 33 yards per kick return. Meanwhile, Eastside’s rushing attack is anchored by the duo of junior Sincere Johnson and sophomore Dallas Johnson, who have combined for 795 yards and 12 touchdowns on 128 carries. Perhaps the Eagles’ top defender is junior linebacker Trace Nicholson, who leads the squad with 64 tackles and 10 tackles-for—a—loss and shares the team lead with two interceptions. Another key Eastside defender is junior linebacker Devin Brown, who has 35 tackles and two See PREVIEW Page SB PIZZA Get a large speciality pizza from Jonah’s between 3-5 pm on Friday and you’ll get a FREE Go Dogs T-shirtll Enjoy Pizza and Pigskin on a Football Friday Night in Forsyth, Ga! a» %m ’V JOHNSTO 26 E. Johnston Street - Forsyth, GA 31029 (478) 994-8844