Pepperell

Putting its physical defense to work against opponents has been Pepperell’s game plan all season, and it’s earned the Dragons great success.

Friday, however, the Dragons hit a wall in Thomasville as they were shut down 58-14 by the Bulldogs in the second round of the Class AA state playoffs.

Pepperell’s offense managed 237 yards against the Bulldogs, but the Thomasville offense roared to 498 yards in the win. The Bulldogs will face Rabun County, which defeated Toombs County 34-14, next week at home in the quarterfinals.

Pepperell quarterback Gage Moses got the Dragons on the board in the second quarter when he capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run, which cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 35-7 at halftime.

Thomasville (8-4) outscored Pepperell 23-7 in the second half to assure the win.

The Dragons (9-3) put up their final touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run by quarterback Shannen White with 4:08 left to play.

Pepperell had another chance to score on the first drive of the third quarter when the team marched down to the Bulldogs’ 8-yard line, but senior Ryan Hurst missed a 25-yard field goal. The game was the first action Hurst had seen since suffering an injury during the Dragons’ regular-season finale against Chattooga two weeks ago.

The Dragons finish their season after claiming the No. 2 seed in the state playoffs and knocking off defending state champion Heard County last week in the first round in front of a home crowd at Dragon Stadium in Lindale.

The Dragons’ defense, led by senior safety and Region 7-AA Defensive Player of the Year Josh Ross, shut out four teams this season and allowed an average of only 14 points per game.

The Dragons only lost two regular-season matchups — a season-opening loss to Darlington and a loss to Region 7-AA champion Rockmart — and were a perfect 6-0 at home.

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