Mary Persons fell to 3-3, 2-2 in region with a disappointing 49-14 homecoming thrashing at the hands of Crisp County on Friday night at The Pitt.
The Bulldogs got an early 7-0 lead before the Cougars (3-3, 3-0 region) exploded for 42 first-half points that put the game out of reach before the homecoming queen was crowned at halftime. The Bulldogs didn’t help themselves, committing five turnovers.
Nelson said he wants to do like legendary NFL coach Bill Bellicheck and not talk about the game anymore, but then couldn’t resist some observations.
“You can’t turn the ball over five times and beat anyone,” said MP coach Brian Nelson. “We can’t go to the rec department and win a game turning it over 5 times.”
It didn’t start that way though. The Bulldogs had the ball first and junior quarterback Logan Hickman connected with senior wideout Jake Lavinka on a 44 yard pass that took MP to the Crisp 36. Senior DJ Martinez ran for 20 yards and then sophomore Duke Watson pounded out runs of 5, 4 and 7 yards until he hit the end zone. Tripp Shipman’s PAT made it 7-0 and a large homecoming crowd was feeling pretty good. They did not know what was coming.
On its fourth play from scrimmage, Crisp junior quarterback Ahmad Brown took it 55 yards to the house and the Cougars tied the game at 7-7 with 8:22 left in the first.
On MP’s ensuing possession, facing a 3rd and 6 at their own 24 yard line, Watson fumbled the ball and the Cougars recovered at the MP 20. Two plays later senior running back Marquise Palmer darted 20 yards for the score and it was 14-7.
The fumble was first of three the Bulldogs would give away out of its next four straight possessions.
After Hickman fumbled at the MP 44, Crisp mounted a 6-play drive capped when Palmer scored from 13 yards out to make it 21-7 with 2:42 left in the first.
MP punted on its next possession and Crisp drove 74 yards in eight plays until Brown carried it in from a yard out. The rout was on at 28-7 with 10:04 left in the second quarter.
On its next possession Hickman threw to Lavinka at the MP 35 yard line but the Crisp defender stripped the ball out. The Cougars picked up the ball and ran for the score and it was 35-7 with 8:28 left until half.
MP would punt twice more while Crisp would score again, this time through the air on a 42-yard pass play. The Cougars took a 42-7 lead into the half.
To add insult to injury, after the halftime homecoming festivities, junior receiver Trae Walker took the second half kickoff and went 95 yards to the house. Now it was 49-7.
The disaster continued as the Bulldogs threw an interception on their first possession of the second half.
Finally MP got one more score when JT Owens ran for the score from 8 yards out. Shipman’s PAT made it 49-14.
MP’s sophomore sensation Watson was held to just 91 yards and one score on 21 carries. Hickman was 4 of 10 passing for 51 yards with an interception. Champ Brantley led the defense with 7 tackles. While MP turned the ball over five times, the Bulldogs were unable to force even more turnover by the Cougars. The big win for Crisp sets up a game this Friday against Peach County which will likely determine the region champ.
Nelson said MP had a good week of practice last week, but once the turnovers started, it snowballed.
“By the time that snowball gets to the bottom of the hill,” said Nelson, “it’s not a snowball anymore.”
He noted that Crisp County had 150 fewer yards of offense than McDonough had, but giving them the ball five times was too much.
“We are minus 7 in turnovers in the three games we’ve lost,” said Nelson.
Nelson said the game reminded of the West Laurens game two years ago when MP threw three interceptions and the Raiders ran away with it 54-7.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re Mary Persons or the Georgic Bulldogs, if you turn it over five times you’re usually gonna lose,” said Nelson.