Leading by only a touchdown at halftime, the Pepperell football team put together some impressive plays in the second half to come away with a Region 7-AA win.
The Dragons’ efforts resulted in a 28-0 win Friday night against Model at Dragon Stadium, which improved Pepperell to 5-1 overall and, more importantly, 3-0 in region play.
The win is the fifth straight for the Dragons as they head into a bye week before facing top-ranked Rockmart on the road on Oct. 18.
“It’s huge,” Pepperell head coach Rick Hurst said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to do. We’ve got a huge one in two weeks against the No. 1 team in the state of Georgia, and I just told them ‘Why not us? Why not us go down there and beat them?’ Our kids are going to play and we’re going to play physical.”
The Dragons expanded their lead to 14-0 in the third quarter thanks to the feet and arm of quarterback Shannen White. Facing a fourth-and-inches, White rushed for 2 yards up the middle to extend the drive for the Dragons. Three plays later, the sophomore quarterback looked to be taken down for a loss but was able to shake off a tackler and hit Payton Rhoades down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown pass.
White and fellow quarterback Gage Moses have been able to open up several options at offense for the Dragons.
“That play on the sideline was a big-time play and a big-time throw,” Hurst said. “We’re fortunate we’ve got two guys that can make those plays. Both of them are playing really well, so at times you go with one and at times you go with another.”
White scored another touchdown, this time on the ground, in the second quarter on a 1-yard run, which put the Dragons up 7-0.
While proving to be stingy for most of the night, the Model defense gave up another big play in the fourth quarter when freshman running back D.J. Rogers broke loose for a 42-yard touchdown run to make the final 28-0. The Dragons’ other touchdown came in the fourth quarter on a 6-yard run by Josh Ross.
“We gave up a couple of big plays to a good football team,” Model head coach Jeff Hunnicutt said. “We’re still young, but you could see some of our growth, defensively especially. I’m proud of their efforts.”
The Model defense held Pepperell to 109 yards of offense in the first half, but the Blue Devils’ offense continues to struggle to find success. Model only put up 29 yards of offense in the first half.
While the defense has proven to be a strong point for the Blue Devils (2-4, 2-1 7-AA) this season, the offense still needs work according to Hunnicutt.
“We’ve got to continue to build,” Hunnicutt said. “We’ve got to get a better identity of what we can and can’t do offensively. Defensively, I think we figured out some personnel, and I really like the way we’re flying around. I think we’re striking some folks. We’ve got to continue to grow and quit giving up that big play.”
Hurst praised the Model defense and emphasized the problems the Blue Devils could cause opponents if the offense comes together more.
“Jeff’s done a great job over there with that with that defense,” Hurst said. “That’s the most physical that team’s been in three years. That’s a testament to him. Once he gets an identity offensively that I know he’s searching for — they’re going to be tough. They’re going to be tough to handle down the down the road.”
Model also has a week off before continuing region play at home against Chattooga on Oct. 18.