MP quarterback Logan Hickman had the best game of his career in a 22-17 win over Upson on Friday. (Photo/Russ Campbell)

MP quarterback Logan Hickman had the best game of his career in a 22-17 win over Upson on Friday. (Photo/Russ Campbell)

Mary Persons quarterback Logan Hickman hit receiver Adrian Hughley for a touchdown with 15 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a stunning come-from-behind 22-17 win over Upson-Lee Friday to keep MP’s playoff hopes alive.

“We needed that one,” said MP coach Brian Nelson. “I’m proud of the kids. They kept battling. Things haven’t always gone our way this year and they kept fighting and found a way to win.”

Nelson said MP played its most complete game of the year at just the right time.

The Bulldogs (4-4, 2-3 region), who improved to .500 on the year, can secure a playoff spot with a win over rival Jackson on Friday.

“Every game’s like a playoff game,” said Nelson.

Against Upon-Lee, MP looked to have locked down the win with 9:12 left in the game when junior Tripp Shipman hit a 27-yard field goal to give MP a 2-score lead 16-7. But things went sideways quickly for MP. The Knights went on a 7-play, 75-yard scoring drive, mostly behind the legs of senior running back Milique Smith, who scored from 16 yards out to whittle MP’s lead to 16-14 with 6:11 left in the game.

On MP’s ensuing possession, facing 2nd and 16 from its own 26 yard line, Hickman threw an interception to give the Knights the ball at the MP 29 yard line with under 5 minutes to go. Smith would get the next 6 carries to the MP 10 yard line before junior Ethan Davis made a 26-yard field goal to give Upson its first lead of the night, 17-16, with just 1:12 left.

MP would have one last chance to save itself and avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Hughley got things started well with a good kickoff return to the MP 48 yard line. Then Hickman connected with Jaboree Goodson for 27 yards, with Maury Lowe for 11, and then Hughley for 13 yards to the 1 yard line with just 15 seconds left. Then Hickman found Hughley again in the left side of the end zone as the Bulldogs reclaimed the lead 22-17. The two-point conversion failed.

Upson started in good field position after taking the kickoff to midfield, and completed one pass to the MP 45 yard line. But a hail mary fell incomplete and the Bulldogs celebrated their best win of the year.

Hickman had the best night of his young career, going 21 of 32 for 334 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. His favorite target, Hughley, had a monster game with 8 catches for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns.

It was Hughley who put the Dogs on the scoreboard first in the second quarter. Facing 3rd and 9 from their own 44, Hickman hit Hughley for a 56-yard score. Shipman’s extra point made it 7-0 with 5:56 left in the first half. 

Neither team threatened until Upson got the second half kickoff. On 1st and 10 from their own 28, Smith got loose and went 72 yards for the score. Ethan Davis’ PAT tied it 7-7 early in the third.

The Bulldogs had the chance to retake the lead on their ensuing drive, going to the Upson 1 yard line. But on third and goal, freshman Duke Watson lost 3 yards and then Hickman threw an incompletion and it remained 7-7.

The Bulldog defense, led again by senior Thomas Warren who had 11 tackles, forced another punt and MP took over at its own 36. Having failed to score on the ground, MP went to the air. Hickman hit DJ Martinez on throws of 17 and 39 yards and then found Hughley for the touchdown with 11:49 left in the fourth. The PAT was blocked so the lead was just 13-7, setting up the wild final 9 minutes.