A pair of long touchdown passes in the first quarter and a quick drive before halftime gave Mary Persons the momentum it needed to remain unbeaten, as the Bulldogs topped Howard 47-21 on Friday at the Ed DeFore Sports Complex.
Mary Persons (6-0, 2-0 GHSA Region 2-AAAA) put 20 points on the board before Howard (5-2, 1-2) scored twice in a 90-second span late in the second quarter. But the Bulldogs went on a six-play, 60-yard drive in the final two minutes of the half, reclaiming momentum with a 10-yard scoring pass from Jake Johnston to Malik Herring, the defensive end prospect who came in on offense to give Johnston a big red-zone target, with 22 seconds remaining before the break.
“I’ve seen Howard play a couple of times in person and several times on tape, and their offense is explosive,” Mary Persons head coach Brian Nelson said. “Courvoisier King is probably the best quarterback we’ve played, and he did a great job (Friday) and hurt us. So it was important to get those points early.”
Howard, which was looking at starting the second half with possession and only a 20-14 deficit prior to the Johnston-to-Herring score, never really got back into things after that. Mary Persons posted the first points of the second half, and Howard tried to play catch-up from there.
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The Huskies played without one of their key figures, the result of a knee injury suffered a week earlier against Perry.
JaQwun Stinson, the team’s top running back, punter and role player on defense at linebacker, was diagnosed with a torn meniscus. He will undergo surgery next week, with an expected absence of four-to-six weeks.
“That hurts,” Howard head coach Barney Hester said. “He’s a good high school football player. He brings more than what he does as an offensive back for us. Missing a kid like him certainly hurts.”
In his absence, Howard went heavily to the passing game, with King completing 23-of-46 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns.
Although King sparked the Howard rally in the second quarter, when he completed scoring passes to Jerin Means and Alphonso Stephens, his offensive showing couldn’t match Mary Persons’ offensive efficiency.
“He had good throws,” Hester said of King. “He had good stuff going, but we just couldn’t stop those guys. That’s a very good football team. We will grow from this.”
Johnston completed 11-of-17 passes for 207 yards, finding Jatori Sims for a 30-yard touchdown on the Bulldogs’ opening series and an 80-yard scoring strike on the third play of the Bulldogs’ second series, which started when Howard stalled at the Mary Persons 5 and missed a short field goal attempt.
Jaquavious Sims also had a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs in the second half.