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FOOTBALL: Dragons roll to shutout win on senior night

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The Pepperell Dragons got to enjoy a game in front of their home crowd for the first time in nearly a month Friday night. And thanks to their successful performance, they’ll have a chance to do it again before this season is through.

Quarterback Trevor Thomas threw for 183 yards and three touchdowns while the Dragons’ defense forced two early turnovers in a 43-0 blowout against Region 7-AA foe Armuchee on senior night at Dragon Stadium.

The win guarantees Pepperell a spot in the Class AA state playoffs, but its final seeding won’t be decided until after the outcome of next week’s game at Chattooga. Dragon head coach Rick Hurst said he’s excited about the attitude his players have heading into the last game of the regular season.

“It doesn’t matter who’s getting the ball, and it doesn’t matter who’s scoring. It’s the win that’s most important,” Hurst said. “And I told them that if they’ll continue to do that there’s no telling how far we can go.”

While Thomas was 11-of-17 passing, Pepperell’s Tae Hammond had nine carries for 85 yards and a touchdown while TJ Watkins had five receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown.

“The chemistry is where it needs to be this time of year,” Hurst said. “Offensively we’ve clicking. When your quarterback is playing the way he is he gives you a lot of options. We’ve got a lot of weapons.”

Armuchee came into the game having scored at least a touchdown in each game this season, but Pepperell’s defense held the Indians back just enough to keep them from finding the end zone Friday night.

“It was a great job out of coach (Jeff) Hunnicutt and his guys to stop a team that can put points on the board,” Hurst said. “They’ve got some weapons. We just came out really high, and we never let off the gas.”

Up 7-0 after the opening drive, Pepperell (6-3, 5-1 7-AA) got back on offense quickly when Cade Thompson tackled Armuchee quarterback Brayden Perry on third-and-9 and forced a fumble that was picked up by the Dragons’ Jimmy Powell.

Connor Chandler scored from 7 yards out on the next play and Ramiro Alanis made his second of five extra points on the night to put Pepperell up 14-0.

Armuchee (1-8, 0-6) seemed to find its momentum on the ensuing possession when Perry hit Brayden Butler for a 25-yard pass on third-and-15. But the Indians lost the ball two plays later on another forced fumble.

Pepperell had a five-play, 43-yard drive end with a touchdown pass from Thomas to Payton Rhoades with 12 seconds left in the opening quarter to make it 21-0 and the Dragons never looked back.

Armuchee will close out its season at home next Friday against Dade County.