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'Our worst nightmare'

VALDOSTA - Nine years ago the Brookwood Broncos traveled down to Valdosta for the state championship game and picked up the biggest win in school history.

This time, the trip wasn't nearly as fun.

The Lowndes Vikings dominated the previously unbeaten Broncos from the opening kickoff and rolled to a 49-7 win on Saturday night in front of a capacity crowd of nearly 12,000 at Martin Stadium.

It was the second straight state championship for the Vikings and their third in the last seven years.

Brookwood finished the year 14-1.

"We thought we could come down here and keep the game close and have a chance to win," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "And we helped them so much that it sort of turned into our worst nightmare."

Said Brookwood quarterback David Pittman: "Give big ups to Lowndes. Lowndes is a great team. You can't take anything away from them."

Leading 21-7 at half, Lowndes put the game and the championship away early in the third quarter. The Vikings picked off Pittman on three straight possessions and the Lowndes offense scored after each one to take a 42-7 lead into the fourth quarter. The Vikings then scored the final points on a Lynn Williams' 28-yard run with 10:41 left in the final period, which used a running clock because the score was so one-sided.

Brookwood turned the ball over four times in the second half and all four led to Lowndes touchdowns.

"Turnovers killed us," Crews said. "You're playing a great football team and I don't know how many turnovers we had, but one would have been too many.

"The one thing you can say in a state championship game is you can't make mistakes. When you have that many turnovers you're going to get whipped."

It was a great season for the Broncos, who had won 14 straight games coming into Saturday night.

But it was a shocking ending for a team that rushed for over 4,100 yards on the season and was averaging better than 37 points per game. Brookwood managed just 38 rushing yards on 34 attempts against a supremely talented Lowndes defense.

"They're awfully big and they're awfully quick," Crews said. "And we had a hard time getting anything going."

Said Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson: "I'm very proud of our defense. We've got a great defense. That defense right there is going to go down as one of the greatest defenses in the state."

The offense isn't too bad either.

The Vikings jumped all over the Broncos in the first half, racing out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

Lowndes scored on its second possession of the game when receiver Jermel Demps took an end-around handoff and lofted a pass toward the end zone that Robert Frazier made a great adjustment on for a 29-yard TD pass and a 7-0 lead.

The Vikings scored again five minutes later when Lynn Williams capped an eight-play, 76-yard drive with a one-yard run up the middle to increase the advantage to 14-0 late in the first quarter.

It was a bad start for the Broncos to be sure, and it got worse late in the second quarter when quarterback Doug Belk scored on a five-yard bootleg run with 3:32 in the half, to cap a nine-play, 58-yard drive and give the Vikings a stunning 21-0 lead.

"They are a better football team," Crews said. "At least they were tonight."

Brookwood answered back, however, right before the half.

The Broncos, who had a grand total of 18 yards on their first five possessions - including negative 10 yards rushing - got a 47-yard kickoff return from Keith Gridine to start the ensuing drive.

Quarterback David Pittman hit P.J. Katz on a 15-yard strike on the first play, and then after the Broncos converted a fourth-and-one attempt, he found Katz again for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 1:01 remaining in the half.

Lowndes went into the locker room with a 21-7 lead and a huge advantage on the stat sheet as well. The Vikings amassed 218 yards of total offense, including 144 yards rushing.

Brookwood meanwhile managed just 67 total yards against the stout Viking defense in the first half and star running back Cameron Smith tallied just four yards on nine carries in the first 24 minutes.

The final stats weren't much prettier for the Broncos, who were outgained 325-132 in the game.

Lowndes rushed for 243 yards on 38 carries.

"They were just the better football team," Crews said.