FORSYTH -- Mary Persons guaranteed its sixth season of at least seven wins since 2007 after defeating Region 2-AAAA opponent Rutland 47-20 Friday night.
The sixth-ranked Bulldogs (7-0, 4-0) all but secured their third straight playoff appearance with the win. Rutland’s loss drops them to 4-3 on the season and 1-3 in region play and greatly diminishes their playoff chances.
Mary Persons head coach Brian Nelson said the penalty- and fumble-laced game was not the best he’s seen his team play.
“With this team, it’s gonna be a head-scratcher all the time,” Nelson said. “We continually work to improve on those mistakes and those things, but it seems like they just keep coming back. At the same time to be able to get a win, especially a region win, anytime we can do that we’re ... happy.”
All six of Mary Persons’ touchdowns came on offense, after having scored more than 35 only once in their first six games. Quarterback Cal King passed for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and safety Akebren Ralls caught six of his passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought (the offense) did a better job,” Nelson said. “We’ve struggled in the past couple weeks on offense. We challenged them a bit and they responded a little bit better but obviously we still got a lot of things to work on on both sides of the ball.”
Rutland came into the game averaging 30 points per game on the season, but that total dwindled to 15 in region play. The Hurricanes were held scoreless in the first half, but came back to score three touchdowns in the third quarter.
Mary Persons got things going with a field goal in the first and then erupted in the second with 23 points. King connected with John Perkins for a 30-yard touchdown early on in the quarter.
The Bulldogs followed that by recovering an onside kick, and Justin Jarrell scored on an 18-yard run with 3:42 left. They mounted another score before halftime after a 59-yard pass between King and J.T. Stokes, with Dee High completing the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Hurricanes gained a little momentum after the half, with Jalen Kirkland scoring a 21-yard return on a blocked punt. However, Mary Persons quickly responded with a 68-yard completion touchdown from King to Ralls.
Rutland scored again on their next two possessions with completions between quarterback TImori Northcutt and Shakenneth Williams of 31 and 15 yards, respectively.
The Hurricanes were held scoreless in the fourth as High and Jarrell scored the Bulldogs’ final two touchdowns of the night.