ATLANTA - That Brookwood dominance in the Corky Kell Classic is long gone.
The Broncos, who rode a six-game winning streak in the annual event from 2000 to 2005, lost their fourth straight opener in the Georgia Dome on Saturday, falling 42-32 to McEachern. Their three turnovers led to three Indian touchdowns and they allowed a 71-yard kickoff return, but most of their problems were with a young defense.
"We've done this for several years now," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "We've got to find a way to win another one down here. If we want another chance this season (in the state finals), we have to win a lot of ball games between now and then."
Crews' team now gets a bye week to figure out exactly what happened with its defense in Game 1.
McEachern scored on seven of its first eight possessions, rolling up 286 first-half yards to take a 26-6 lead at intermission. The unit finished with 408 yards, with 174 rushing yards from highly recruited running back Rajuan Bennett and 190 passing yards from Trent Thompson, a sophomore making his first start.
Those aren't the kind of numbers conducive to winning many games and they're not what the Bronco coaches expected, even though their defense returned just three starters from last season.
"We felt like we had a good bunch on defense and we still do," Crews said. "But defensively, for whatever reason, we just couldn't slow them down. We couldn't make them punt."
McEachern took barely more than three minutes to score on its first possession, then scored again off a Brookwood fumble for a 13-0 lead. The Broncos answered with an 11-play scoring drive, capped by Julian Suber's 10-yard touchdown run.
The score was still 19-6 just before halftime when Ben McLane threw the first of his three interceptions, giving McEachern the ball with just 42 seconds left at its own 38-yard line. But a 23-yard pass and a Bronco personal foul put the Indians in scoring position, where Thompson found Amba Etta-Tawo with a 29-yard TD with just 13 seconds left in the half.
The two hooked up for another 29-yard TD on the Indians' first third-quarter possession, stretching the lead to 33-6.
But Brookwood's offense kept plugging away behind Suber, who scored on a 3-yard run and later caught a 28-yard TD pass from McLane. The senior running back gained 117 yards on 21 carries, in addition to catching two passes for 49 yards.
McLane finished 11 of 19 passing for 170 yards and two TDs, the other a 3-yard scoring toss to Nick Moore. Andre Sims also was a bright spot in the passing game, catching four passes for 53 yards.
Allen McCray also gave the Broncos a second-half boost with a 97-yard kickoff return TD, but McEachern responded to that with a 15-play scoring drive that pushed the lead to 42-20.
McLane threw both his TD passes after that point as the offense offered a few bright spots on a day when Brookwood allowed the most points it ever has in the Corky Kell (the old mark was giving up 31 to Valdosta in 1996).
"The good thing is that our kids kept playing hard," Crews said. "A lot of times in that situation, kids will hang their head and quit. But they kept fighting until the end."