The Mary Persons Bulldogs varsity football team is currently undefeated and ranked No. 6 in the state. On Thursday afternoon, the Upson-Lee Knights ninth grade team took on the future varsity Bulldogs from the Mary Persons ninth grade team in the Area 9th Grade League Championship Game. The League consist of teams from Lamar County, Jackson, Pike County, Mary Persons, Spalding, Griffin, and Upson-Lee.
The Knights and Bulldogs had already played each other twice during the regular season, with each team earning a victory on the road. On Thursday, the Knights leaned heavily on their running game with running backs Raekwon King and Monkevious Robinson.
The Knights opened the game on a massive drive which took almost the entire first quarter. The Knights pounded the ball with King and Robinson, and got a couple of nice catches from tight end Clark Daniel. Unfortunately, King was stripped of the ball on the Bulldogs’ 3-yard line. The Dawgs picked up the ball and returned the fumble 97 yards for a touchdown. The Bulldogs’ two-point conversion failed, and with just over a minute left in the first quarter, the Knights trailed 6-0.
In the second quarter the Knights continued to pound the ball with their aggressive ground game. Raekwon King capped off a long drive with a 3-yard TD run. Robinson converted the Knights’ two-point conversion and took an 8-6 lead into the locker room at the half.
In the third quarter the Bulldogs were able to stop the Knights on a third and short, as the Knights decided to punt the ball away. However, the Bulldogs returned Rich Stewart’s punt 56 yards for a touchdown. This time the Bulldogs’ two-point conversion was good, and with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Knights trailed 14-8.
The two teams went back and forth as each team’s defense stepped up. With the Knights trailing 14-8, it was King who scrambled for a 12-yard TD run with just eight seconds left in the game. The Knights were stopped short on the two-point conversion, and the two teams went to overtime tied 14-14 to decide the Champion.
The Bulldogs took possession of the ball first in overtime on the 15-yard line. On the first play of overtime, Mary Persons scored on a sweep around the end for a 15-yard TD run. The Bulldogs’ two-point conversion was good, and Mary Persons led 22-14.
The Knights took over for their possession at the 15-yard line, needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to send the game into double overtime. The Knights running attack was shut down at the line of scrimmage on the first two plays, and the Knights ended the game with two incompletions, with the Bulldogs earning the 22-14 victory and the championship.