Seemingly against all odds and probability, Peach County found its offense and erased a 19-point fourth quarter deficit to come from behind and beat Mary Persons 20-19 on Friday in GHSA non-region play.
The decisive touchdown came on a fourth-and-12 with 3:16 to play when Antonio Gilbert escaped pressure, moved up in the pocket and found Devontae Howard who scored from 15 yards out.
Mary Persons got a huge return on the ensuing kickoff to set itself up at the 47, but were quickly faced with a fourth down of its own after a dropped pass. Quarterback Caleb Speir had one final chance to save the Bulldogs, but his pass went through the hands of Roger Akins who was behind the Trojan defense for a touchdown after a post pattern.
Gilbert converted a third-and-7 with his feet on Peach County’s final possession to ensure the victory.
The Trojans move to 3-1, while Mary Persons falls to 3-2.
Three who mattered
Gilbert: The Trojans’ quarterback made numerous big plays down the stretch after struggling up until that point. He passed for 93 yards in the fourth quarter, including the touchdown strike to Howard.
Zach Harvey: The dynamic Mary Persons tailback had 11 carries for 93 yards at halftime but was largely in check after the break. Harvey finished with 130 yards on 22 attempts.
Howard: After torching Perry a week ago, Howard was held to just 1 catch for 15 yards before the go-ahead drive. He had two catches on the drive, covering the final 34 yards that the Trojans needed to take the lead.
Missed chances: Peach County had an opportunity to put points on the board in the first half but it missed a 46-yard field goal attempt to begin the second quarter. The Trojans had it back just shy of halftime when Mitchell Fineran connected on a 25-yard attempt although he was roughed by the Bulldogs. Peach County took the penalty and took two shots at the end zone before Gilbert kept the ball on third down and was stopped inches from the goal line. Time expired from the clock, and the Trojans went to the half trailing 19-0.
They said it
Peach County head coach Chad Campbell summing up the victory through a range of emotions: “Oh boy. I’m proud of the kids. It’s been a rough month. They really fought back. To come back on a ball team like that in the fourth quarter down 19 points says a lot about this team.”
Campbell on Gilbert’s clutch fourth quarter: “He’s come a long ways, and he still has a ways to go, but he’s a competitor. We didn’t have things go right in the first half, and he was really resilient.”
Campbell on his halftime message: “Just make plays. We missed a lot of opportunities on dropped balls, and we were just a couple of plays from being right back in it. We went three-and-out and then gave up the big play (to start the third quarter). We could’ve folded our tents, but we didn’t do it.”
Mary Persons hosts Spalding on Sept. 30, while Peach County hosts Westside on Friday.