High School Sports

Mary Persons advances with shutout

FORSYTH -- Westover spent plenty of time on Mary Persons’ side of the field Friday night in the opening round of the GHSA Class AAAA playoffs.

Nearly two full quarters were spent with the Patriots trying to find a way into the Bulldogs’ end zone.

They never solved the puzzle.

Mary Persons (9-2) survived some tense moments to earn a 14-0 win over Westover (6-5) and star defensive tackle Trenton Thompson, a Georgia-bound senior who is ranked by most recruiting services as one of the top 10 seniors in America.

The Bulldogs must now travel to play No. 1 Buford, the most successful program in Georgia during the past decade, in the second round.

“We’re excited about the opportunity,” Mary Persons head coach Brian Nelson said. “Every guy in that locker room is going to be excited to play a great program like Buford and see how we measure. We’ve got nothing to lose.”

The Bulldogs, who claimed their fourth shutout of the season, were slotted into this tough second-round matchup after committing five turnovers in a loss to West Laurens in the Region 2-AAAA championship game a week ago.

None of those mistakes cropped up Friday against the Patriots.

The Bulldogs eased down the field on their opening drive, scoring on a 18-yard touchdown run by Dee High, who also had a 31-yard run on the drive.

Mary Persons scored again on its next drive, using a 37-yard pass from Jake Johnston to Malik Bledsoe to set up a 6-yard touchdown run by High. High, who had 94 rushing yards in the first half, had to leave the game in the second half with an apparent head injury.

With two early touchdowns, it seemed like Mary Persons would waltz to the win, but the Bulldogs slowed down on offense.

Westover played most of the second quarter on the Bulldogs’ side of the field, downing punts inside the Bulldogs’ 20 on multiple occasions.

Late in the second quarter, Westover recovered a muffed punt at the Mary Persons’ 4-yard line. The Patriots actually lost a yard before turning it over on downs.

“That was a big stop, because you don’t want to give them momentum heading into halftime,” Nelson said. “Proud of the way the defense played right there.”

Westover turned the ball over on downs three times in Mary Persons’ territory in the game.