Mary Persons at Cartersville
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Weinman Stadium, Cartersville
Records, rankings: Mary Persons is 11-2, the No. 1 seed from Region 2-AAAA and No. 7; Cartersville is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 5-AAAA and No. 1.
Last meeting: Cartersville won 21-17 in the 1991 Class AA semifinals.
Things to know: Mary Persons is in the semifinals for the first time since 1998 and 10th time overall. The Bulldogs run the ball about 73 percent of the time and average 228.1 yards per game on the ground. Zach Harvey is the leading rusher with 1,395 yards and 24 touchdowns on 228 carries, but sophomore Quen Wilson has come alive in the playoffs with 503 yards (866 for the season), including 152 in a 28-27 victory over Blessed Trinity last week. Defending state champion Cartersville has won 28 consecutive games, only one of which was decided by less than 10 points. The Purple Hurricanes pass the ball about 67 percent of the time, led by QB Trevor Lawrence, the nation’s No. 1 recruit among juniors. Lawrence is 220-of-349 passing for 3,450 yards and 45 touchdowns. He threw for 197 yards and one TD in a 26-15 win over Woodward Academy last week.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Cartersville by 24
Jefferson at Thomson
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, The Brickyard, Thomson
Records, rankings: Jefferson is 12-1, the No. 1 seed from Region 8-AAAA and No. 4; Thomson is 13-0, the No. 1 seed from 3-AAAA and No. 2.
Last meeting: Thomson won 42-20 on Sept. 2.
Things to know: Thomson’s victory over Jefferson in the regular season was the teams’ first meeting since 1963 in a series that Thomson leads 7-2-2. Jefferson was trailed 28-20 with 4:54 remaining, but Thomson returned an onside kick for a touchdown and pulled away. Both teams prefer to run the ball – Thomson averages 319.2 yards per game rushing and 108.2 passing, and Jefferson averages 231.2 rushing and 76.3 passing. Thomson ran for a season-low 192 yards against Jefferson, and the Dragons finished with 127, their second-lowest total of the season. Mike Thomas is Thomson’s leading rusher with 2,143 yards, including 193 in a 30-7 victory over Spalding last week. Bubba Murray has 931 yards. They have combined for 39 touchdowns on the ground. QB Mills Ridings is 83-of-124 passing for 1,279 yards with 13 TDs. Colby Wood leads Jefferson with 1,534 rushing yards, and Zack Boobas and Colby Clark have combined for another 1,184.
Maxwell Ratings’ projection: Thomson by 14
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