Jake Fromm completed 26 of 36 passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns Thursday to lift Houston County to a 26-14 victory against Mary Persons on the opening night of the Kell Classic at Mercer University in Macon.
It was the first time the two programs have met since 1995, and Houston County had never beaten the Bulldogs.
In what was a tale of two halves, Houston County scored on every possession in the first half, then relied on its defense to hold off a Class AAAA Mary Persons team that is ranked eighth in the state.
The Bears' opening drive went 85 yards in nine plays and took less than two minutes. Fromm, a Super 11 selection who is committed to UGA, completed six passes for 77 yards on the drive, the last a 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver Amari Colbert.
Mary Persons countered with a 10-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game, then watched as Fromm and the Bears took control. Fromm led Houston County on three long drives, completing three touchdown passes to Colbert of 34, 32 and 8 yards.
"If you run your route right, it's going to be right on time, every time. He's that type of player," said Colbert, who finished the game with 10 catches for 168 yards. "He made me who I am. It's a really good feeling when you know you have (Fromm) back there throwing to you."
But there were no more highlights for the Houston County offense. The Bears, ranked third in Class AAAAAA, failed to score on five possessions of the second half, in large part because penalties stopped drives. Houston finished the game with 16 penalties for 131 yards.
Although Mary Persons stayed in Houston County territory for much of the second half, three interceptions by Branden Smith, Trey Jones and Caleb Thomas kept the Bulldogs at bay. Mary Persons managed to score with 5:53 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 26-14.
"We executed in the first half, but we didn't execute the second half because there were too many mistakes" said Fromm.
"We've got to get better moving the ball, especially in the second half, you know (Mary Persons) made some adjustments and did a great job." said Houston County coach Vonn Lassiter. "I'm glad I don't have to answer the question of, 'If we had not gotten those turnovers what would have happened?'"Mary Persons running back Zach Harvey rushed for 198 yards on 26 attempts and scored two touchdowns, his first on a 1-yard run and second on an 18-yard reception from Caleb Speir. Speir finished the game with 114 yards on nine completions. The Bulldogs rushed for 305 yards on 42 attempts. They had 446 yards of total offense.
Houston County added 163 yards rushing and 414 yards passing for 577 yards of total offense. Fromm also passed to Kimar Robinson four times for 81 yards and Eli Watson five times for 73 yards.
Mary Persons' defensive end Malik Herring, the other Super 11 selection in the game, finished with three solo tackles and three assists. He got to Fromm once for a 6-yard sack.
Lee County 20, Jones County 13
Mark Robinson rumbled for 157 yards and Lee County forced three turnovers as the Trojans held on 20-13 against Jones County in Game 2 of Day 1 of the MetroPCS Corky Kell Classic at Mercer's Five Star Stadium.
Jones County entered the 2016 season with seniors Bradley Hunnicutt and Nick Singleton expected to light up the scoreboard as a potent pass-and-catch duo, but the Lee County defense was up to the challenge anchored by Akilies Leroy and AJC Super 11 selection and Michigan-commit, Aubrey Solomon. Leroy collected a team-high eight tackles from his linebacker position and forced and recovered a fumble on the Jones County 33-yard line with 7:51 remaining which led to an eventual 31-yard Dylan Brendel field goal to go up 20-6.
Defense dominated from the opening kick as the first quarter ended scoreless after Hunnicutt fumbled deep in Lee County territory, Justin Favors notched the recovered fumble. In the second quarter, Lee County fed Robinson and Giavonte Daniels to take the pressure off first-time starter, quarterback Jase Orndorff. Orndorff also got help from Drequan Garmon who hauled in a 24-yard catch and saw 15 more yards tacked on after a defenseless receiver penalty was called on Jones County. The very next play Daniels raced down the left sideline for an 18-yard score to take a 7-0 lead at the 8:54 mark.
Jones County saw a drive stall but quickly received a gift as the Greyhounds recovered a fumble after their punt hit an unsuspecting Trojan player at the 19-yard line. Once again, it was Lee County's defense coming up big with Tory Carter scooping up a botched 4th-and-3 snap from the Lee County 3-yard line and taking it out to the 36.
Brendel added a 26-yard field late in second quarter to go ahead 10-0, but Josh Skinner answered with a 32-yard kick to get Jones County on the board heading into the half. Skinner tacked on a 42-yard field goal in the third quarter to send the Greyhounds into the fourth trailing 10-6.
In the fourth quarter, Robinson found the end zone from 5-yards out to go up 17-6 before Brendel connected on his second field goal of the night, a 31-yarder with 3:35 remaining to make it 20-6. Hunnicutt, who finished 20-of-32 for 271 yards and one touchdown, broke through for Jones County's first score of the game, a 25-yard strike to Nick Singleton with 1:35 remaining. Singleton tallied 11 receptions for 197 yards while the Greyhound run game sputtered, finishing with -41 yards.
Jones County forced a three-and-out and had one last chance to tie the game, trailing 20-13 with 17 seconds left. Hunnicutt tossed a 6-yard pass to De'Queze Fryer who lateralled to Singleton for an extra 21 yards, setting the Greyhounds up at the Lee County 42 with five seconds left. Jones County tried to spike the ball after the long gain, but it was ruled that time expired before Hunnicutt could stop the clock.
Orndorff completed 14 of his 24 passes for 151 yards in his first career start. Lee County outgained Jones County 379 to 230 in total yardage.