FORSYTH -- Veterans might be a young program, but the Warhawks know at least one thing: Defense wins championships.
Veterans held Mary Persons to negative yards on the ground for a 10-0 win Friday night to take the GHSA Region 2-AAAA championship at Dan Pitts Stadium at Mitchell Field.
If we dont control the clock, if we dont control the tempo of the game , Veterans head coach David Bruce said. Its tough getting in shootouts. Im just so proud of the way we played on defense.
Mary Persons standout Akebren Ralls saw limited action, thanks to an ankle injury suffered near the end of last weeks win over Baldwin. Ralls told head coach Brian Nelson he was fine.
He says he is, said Nelson, noting Ralls didnt practice at all during the week. But you saw the game. He aint fine. You saw him.
Ralls was thus of no impact as the Warhawks punted away from him, and he saw only a handful of snaps on offense, and those didnt go well. He lost 31 yards on three tries, evidence of the superb effort by Veterans defense.
He looked like he was hobbling, Bruce said. He definitely wasnt his same self.
Veterans improved to 6-3 overall and 6-0 in region play while Mary Persons fell to 8-1 and 5-1.
The field was wet but seemed muddier when Mary Persons had the ball until late. The Bulldogs threatened to score and at least have a chance, getting a first down at Veterans 13, But the next four three plays summed up the night: no gain, a fumbled snap resulting in a loss of 11 and then two incompletions.
Veterans quarterback Logan Byrd really sealed the win a few minutes earlier. After yet another punt, Veterans took over on its 43 with 6:07 left, owning a 3-0 lead. The Warhawks moved, got a clutch third-down pass-and-catch from Byrd to Chris Watts.
Then Byrd kept the ball on a zone read play, pounded through the line and lumbered 32 yards for the touchdown. Tim Yalcins kick made it a seemingly insurmountable 10-0 lead with 2:49 remaining.
The way Veterans defense played, even that 3-0 margin appeared almost safe.
Mary Persons managed one first down in the first half and was held to minus-1 yard on offense in the first two quarters and minus-23 yards rushing total.
I didnt know that, Bruce said, starting to smile. Thats incredible. Thats just a testament to how hard our guys played on defense.