LOGANVILLE - Grayson is finally on top of Region 8-AAAAA football.
After moving to the region in 2004, the Rams have climbed up the ladder pretty quickly. Two teams have dominated the region for the last 15 years - Parkview and Brookwood.
Now it looks like it's the Rams' turn.
Grayson (7-0, 5-0 8-AAAAA) got over the Parkview hump two years ago and on Friday finally got past Region 8 nemesis Brookwood (3-3, 3-1 region).
A heads-up special teams play, a strong running game and a stingy defense propelled the Rams to a 10-7 win over Brookwood, the first in school history.
"I just feel honored to be a part of it, it's a great win for our program," Grayson linebacker Jonathan Langston said. "We dreamed about it. We've never beat them. We had never beat the top dog."
The No. 6-ranked Rams now sit atop Region 8 for the first time and with three games remaining are in good shape to claim the program's first Region 8-AAAAA title. Grayson's final three games are against teams that have a combined 5-14 record.
"It feels great. It got us a region championship," Grayson lineman Joseph Champaign said. "We've still got a couple of teams to go through, but I'm proud of the team. We deserve this. We've been working our butts off."
Grayson took the opening drive and scored thanks to a fumbled punt by the Broncos. Brookwood fielded the punt cleanly, but then tried to hand it off and fumbled. Ches Whitesides recovered at the 5 and two plays later quarterback Tyler Horne scampered in for the touchdown.
"That's probably the biggest turnover we'll have all year," Horne said. "That was huge."
From there, Grayson relied on its defense, which only allowed 76 yards of offense to the Broncos, and a steady running game.
The Broncos' only score came on a four-yard run by Brice Smith in the second quarter. Brookwood drove 74 yards on nine plays, giving the ball to Smith eight of the plays.
Brookwood kept the drive alive thanks to an illegal participation by the Rams on a third-down stop. Smith finished with 36 yards rushing.
But that was the only meaningful drive of the night. Brookwood managed just one first down the rest of the game.
"We made too many mistakes to win the football game," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "But I still feel like we've got a good football team...We've been close with some pretty good football teams but we haven't quite gotten over the top."
The Rams made it 10-7 on a 22-yard Austin Clark field goal in the third quarter.
Grayson threatened to end the game on a long scoring drive in the fourth quarter, but Terry Williams fumbled at the Broncos' 15 and Evan Towey recovered.
"I thought his progress was stopped and there should have been a whistle," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said. "I'm not sure about that one."
Grayson had already done most of the damage, using nearly seven minutes of clock on the 12-play drive. Pemberton got the ball on all but two plays of the drive and finished with 140 yards on 27 carries.
It's the first time the Brookwood defense has allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.
"They were just good on defense," Horne said. "We were driving the ball, we just couldn't convert on some third downs. We knew we could drive on them, they're just big up front."
Grayson, which came into the game averaging 34 points and 380 yards of offense, was held to its lowest point total of the season. The Rams put up 229 yards against a tough Brookwood defense.
"Our defense has kept us in every game we've played this year," Crews said. "The problem is you leave them out there so long. We can't do that. We've got to be able to sustain drives and get (the defense) off the field."
Linebackers Michael Brown, Chris Martin and David Cooper had 12 tackles each to lead the Broncos.
After Williams' fumble and the Broncos down 10-7 with 1:32 left to play, Brookwood's last four plays resulted in a Champaign sack, an incomplete pass, a Champaign pressure and another incompletion.
"Man, I was like we're stopping them right here," Champaign said. "We had the momentum on our side and were ready to fight for the win."
Champaign finished with seven tackles and 21/2 sacks and Shawn Green added six stops and one tackle for loss.
"Our defense came up big when they had to," Conn said.
Grayson 10, Brookwood 7
Grayson: Tyler Horne 3 run (Austin Clark kick) 6:48
Brookwood: Brice Smith 4 run (Wade Brogdon run) 6:42
Grayson: Austin Clark 22 FG, 2:00
RUSHING - Brookwood: Brice Smith 16-36; Marvis Lane 7-14; Ben McLane 5-(-31). Grayson: Ean Pemberton 27-140; Harrell Gunn 7-29; Tyler Horne 6-27; Terry Williams 6-12; James Earl Jones 5-11.
PASSING - Brookwood: Ben McLane 3-8-0, 57. Grayson: 1-3-0, 10.
RECEIVING - Brookwood: Taylor Sketch 1-16; Leon Spann 1-31; Jimmy Boswell 1-10. Grayson: Tucker Kreis 1-10.