Mary Persons starts strong, rolls past Jackson

Article and photos courtesy of the Macon Telegraph –> Original Article Here

Mary Persons got the strong start it was looking for Friday, and the Bulldogs handled their business from there, taking care of Jackson 28-7 to claim another win in the rivalry game between the programs from neighboring counties.

Jackson mounted little against the Mary Persons defense, getting a good part of its yards near the end of the game — including a touchdown with 23 seconds left that prevented the first Mary Persons shutout in the series since 1991, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association website.

But record books or not, Friday was an enjoyable rebound night for the Bulldogs after last week’s loss to Lee County as they rode the wave of various contributors to take a 14-0 first-quarter lead on a pair of touchdown passes from J.T. Hartage to Rashad Hughley.

From there, Mary Persons (1-1) dominated. The Red Devils (0-1) didn’t gain a first down until the third quarter, and a pair of Ladondre Buckner rushing touchdowns in the second half helped cement the Bulldogs’ win.

Four who mattered

Hartage: Mary Persons took advantage of its quarterback’s athleticism, setting him up to either run the ball or make throws rolling out of the pocket. As a result, Mary Persons exploited Jackson’s defense in the flat. Overall, six Bulldogs caught passes as Hartage was 13-of-19 for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Hughley: He was a big benefactor of Mary Persons finding success in the short passing game, hauling in receptions of 12 and 5 yards for a pair of first-half touchdowns and a 14-0 lead.

Buckner: He added to the Mary Persons lead in the second half with a pair of touchdowns to cap a 65-yard night.

Bralen Harvey: He helped the Bulldogs establish the tempo on the ground with 85 yards.

Turning point

After the Mary Persons offense got the start it needed with a 10-play, 80-yard drive, the defense followed suit, registering one sack and forcing an incompletion for a three-and-out. Mary Persons drove downfield for a second touchdown shortly after, getting things rolling.

Observations

Outside pressure: Malik Herring may be graduated, but Mary Persons showed off plenty of pressure from its defensive front, namely from the outside. That threw Jackson’s offense on its heels, neutralizing most anything that it tried to do.

These are the guys: It may not have been by design, but Buckner and Harvey carried the bulk of the rushing load. That was partially prompted by another running back, Quen Wilson, leaving the game early with an injury.

They said it

Mary Persons head coach Brian Nelson on the strong start and the win overall: “That was big. Some guys stepped for us offensively, too. But defensively we got some stops, and then J.T. and Rashad hooked up a few times, which was good. Rashad is a kid who is a senior and has been in the program that hasn’t played a whole to up to this point and had a real good night.”

Nelson on relying on Buckner and Harvey to lead the ground game: “The way this team is this year, those guys are going to have to play a lot. They probably each carried the ball 10 times, and they played every snap on defense. We just don’t have that luxury we have had in the past in terms of depth.”

Hughley on the win after last week’s loss: “I think we prepared really well during the week. When it came time to perform, we did.”

What’s next?

Mary Persons hosts Washington-Atlanta on Friday.

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