Staff Photo: John Bohn Brookwood linebacker Conner Hennessey (47) celebrates his touchdown from a fumble recovery, with teammates including Michael Gouge (49) during the first quarter of a playoff game against Peachtree Ridge Friday.
Brookwood vs. Peachtree Ridge highlights
Highlights from Brookwood's 30-24 win over Peachtree Ridge in the first round of the state playoffs on Nov. 11, 2011.
SUWANEE -- Peachtree Ridge head coach Mark Fleetwood shook his head in bewilderment Friday night, wondering how he lost a football game when running back Di Andre Atwater rushed for 302 yards.
His opposing head coach, Brookwood's Mark Crews, was amazed, too. Not as much by that total, but more with how his players keep finding ways to win crazy games.
The Broncos, calling on some of the magic from a stunning win over Parkview a few weeks back, pulled out another thriller in the Class AAAAA playoff opener and shocked the host Lions for a 30-27 overtime victory.
Unable to run the ball -- it rushed for a season-low 38 yards -- Brookwood used a halfback pass on a critical fourth-quarter drive that resulted in game-tying touchdown from Zach Moon to B.J. Sammon with 47 seconds left in regulation.
After holding Peachtree Ridge to a 34-yard Connor Rouleau field goal in the first half of the first OT, the Broncos (8-3) scored in two plays, the game-winner an 8-yard reverse by Sammon.
"We like to make it interesting," said Moon, who threw for 165 yards. "None of us were going to let our seniors lose. We weren't going down without a fight."
The Broncos, who advance to play at M.L. King next Friday in the second round, were in big trouble late against the Lions (8-3). They got a big third-and-2 stop on Atwater to get the ball back with 1:30 left, but they were on their own 26-yard line.
That's when the defending AAAAA champions turned to a trick play with Sammon, who took a handoff and threw a long pass that D.J. Brown hauled in for a 42-yard gain. Two plays later, Moon hit Sammon for a 33-yard scoring strike that tied the score.
Atwater scored an apparent TD on third-and-two in the first half of overtime, but a holding call led to a third-and-12 and an eventual field goal by Rouleau, which gave the Broncos a chance for Sammon's game-winning reverse.
"We did what we needed to do," Crews said. "I'm proud of our kids. They kept playing hard. When you keep playing hard, good things are going to happen. This bunch of kids is used to winning and when things start going bad, they do everything they can to win."
Brookwood took a big early lead thanks to Peachtree Ridge miscues. The Lions had two turnovers in their first five offensive plays, the first an interception and 31-yard return by Toby Guinn that set up Brandon Morrow's 39-yard field goal.
The second, a fumbled shotgun snap, was returned 30 yards for a TD by the Broncos' Conner Hennessey less than four minutes into the game. Brookwood tacked on another TD early in the second quarter when Sammon got behind the defense for a 79-yard TD pass from Moon.
"I've never been in a game where you rush for that many yards and lose," Fleetwood said. "We spotted them 17 points early. That was the difference. The difference was the first quarter, not what happened there at the end."
After falling behind, Peachtree Ridge dominated until the Broncos' late, game-tying drive.
The Lions scored 24 unanswered points behind Atwater's 35 carries for 302 yards and three scores. Combined with Raham Dixon (six rushes, 66 yards), the hosts rushed for 365 yards and ran 68 offensive plays to Brookwood's 40.
Their defense was equally impressive. The Broncos' potent running backs, Nick Tompkins (12 rushes, 24 yards) and Jamaal Cole (four rushes, 22 yards), never got going.
Instead it was the passing attack that rallied Brookwood into the second round. And a belief from the players that they'll win in tough times, perhaps a trait they learned by winning last year's state title or beating rival Parkview on a desperation kickoff return in the waning seconds.
"We're all close," said Sammon, who had three catches for 132 yards to go with his 8-yard run and 42-yard completion. "We all know we can rely on each other."