SNELLVILLE - On one drive it was a third-and-20. On another it was a third-and-12. And on the final drive it was a third-and-19, followed by a fourth-and-one.
Just when it looked like the Grayson defense had stopped the Broncos, Brookwood made a play, picked up a first down and kept its drive going.
And in a game where the two teams combined for just 19 first downs, those plays made the difference. The Broncos (6-2, 5-0 Region 8-AAAAA) rode their third-down conversions to a 24-7 win over Grayson (6-2, 4-1 region) and now sit alone atop 8-AAAAA.
"We are far from having things sealed up," said Brookwood head coach Mark Crews. "We still have two more weeks to play."
But Crews admits his Broncos are now where they want to be heading into the final weeks. And they wouldn't be that way if it weren't for Terence Davis' big plays.
In a game where Brookwood's star running back Kenny Miles had to fight for every inch of his 156 yards on 31 carries, Davis used his feet to escape the Grayson pass rush and his arm to pick up needed yards through the air. The senior quarterback finished the game 4 of 7 for 77 yards and a touchdown, and Brookwood needed each of those 77 yards. Davis also ran for 94 yards on nine carries.
After two penalties threatened to halt Brookwood's first drive, forcing the Broncos into a third-and-20 from the 35, Davis connected on his second pass of the game with Joshua Jackson for a 35-yard touchdown strike.
"We've said all along that we feel that we can throw the ball a little bit when we need to," Crews said.
And when they needed to Friday, they did.
Grayson tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter, when Tyler Horne punched the ball in from 7 yards out. The Rams converted their own long third down on the drive on a 40-yard scamper by Ean Pemberton.
Brookwood started its next drive on the 20 and this time took 8:41 to run 17 plays before scoring. On the drive, Brookwood converted two third downs, none bigger than Davis' 27-yard connection with Jackson on a third-and-12 from the 39.
"I just want to thank my receivers for coming back to the ball and helping make big plays," Davis said after the game, admitting that the Rams' focus on stopping the run, specifically Miles, opened up the passing game.
Miles ended the drive with a 1-yard dive on fourth-and-goal for his only score the night.
"He ran like a fullback tonight," Crews said of Miles. "He hits people and runs through them. He ran for some tough yards tonight."
In the second half, both methodical offenses struggled to find yards. Brookwood didn't pick up a first down until the fourth quarter and Pemberton, who rushed for 85 yards in the first half, tallied just one yard in the second to finish with 14 carries for 86 yards.
But though its offense couldn't find yards, Brookwood's special teams came up with the game-sealing play. After punting out of its end zone Grayson's Kori Gaines fumbled the return and Brookwood's Jonathan Robinson scooped it up, returning the ball 58 yards to the 7, where Gaines tackled him. In three plays, Brookwood managed zero yards, but kicked a field goal to go up 17-7.
Brookwood added its final score when Julian Suber ran in a fake field goal in the final quarter. That score was set up by an 18-yard run on third-and-19 and fourth-and-1 conversion.
"We didn't make plays and they did, that's the bottom line," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "The ball game came down to 2, 3 or 4 plays and they made plays and we just didn't.
"Our season is not here. I am proud of our kids, they played hard."