Photo: David McGregor Brookwood quarterback Zach Moon walks off the field after his incomplete pass in the Broncos' overtime loss to M.L King in the second round of the AAAAA State Playoffs in Clarkston.
CLARKSTON -- With 9 seconds remaining, everything favored Brookwood. M.L. King stood 31 yards from the end zone, facing fourth down and the Broncos were up 21-14. Nine seconds later, the two teams were headed to overtime.
In the extra period, the Broncos' magic of its late-game wins ran out.
After M.L. King's quarterback, Jonquel Dawson, tied the game with a 31-yard strike to Cornell Boyd to end regulation, he found Georgia-bound Blake Tibbs on a fade on the first play of overtime. Tibbs needed to swivel his hips to make the grab, but came down easily with the pass. The touchdown tied Dawson for the state lead in career scoring passes with 92. The Lions then missed the extra point.
Brookwood, which had won the coin toss, didn't get past the 15-yard line and quarterback Zach Moon's pass missed its mark on fourth down, ending Brookwood's season with a 27-21 overtime loss. Brookwood found itself on the other side after its overtime win a week ago and its game-winning kick return earlier this season against Parkview.
"I am proud of the kids, I am proud of the way they fought and hung in there," Brookwood coach Mark Crews said. "We got beat by a good football team. Sometimes you'd rather get beat 50 to nothing than lose one that you feel like you coulda, shoulda, you know?"
There were plenty of those -- mostly on offense.
Brookwood started three drives in the first half in M.L. King territory and couldn't score. With a 7-0 halftime lead, the Brookwood offense didn't get a first down in the third quarter. Josh Brown picked off Dawson with two minutes left in the game and the Broncos were forced to punt rather than run the clock out. They gave a potent Lions' offense just enough chances and just enough time.
"They are like lightning in a jug," Crews said. "We held them and held them and held them. Our defense played great. We finally let them out from under us. They did what great athletes do, they made plays."
Brookwood started the game in the most Brookwood-like way. They took good field position after a 37-yard opening kickoff by Nick Tompkins and then used up 5:07 off the clock with 11 straight running plays, none going for more than 11 yards and capped off by a Jamaal Cole 7-yard touchdown run on third-and-goal. On the drive, the Broncos could do no wrong, running the ball any way they wanted with either Cole or Tompkins, only once taking a loss on a diving ankle tackle.
After that, the offense stopped.
"I think we caught them off-guard a little bit," Crews said. "We did some new stuff that was tough for them to handle. They made some adjustments and we tried to make some adjustments.
"Give them some credit, they played good on defense."
So did Brookwood.
Until the final drive of the first half when Jonquel Dawson hit Joshua Stanford for a 52-yard completion, the Broncos' defense had allowed just three first downs, 32 yards passing and 37 yards rushing. Stanford led all receivers with seven catches for 198 yards on a touchdown.
But even after the play, the defense didn't let up.
The long completion gave M.L. King a first-and-goal from the 9 and the Lions got as close as the 1-yard line. But a false start preceded a third-down sack by Ty Alston and M.L. King missed the short field goal to keep the Broncos' lead headed into halftime.
As the offense foundered in the third quarter, the Broncos allowed just one touchdown on a 36-yard pass from Dawson to Joshua Stanford.
With the game tied, Crews got aggressive.
After a booming punt by the Broncos' Mitch Hotop switched field position and gave Brookwood the ball near midfield rather than inside its 10, the offense moved down to the goal line and on fourth-and-goal from the one, Crews went for the score and Cole delivered his second touchdown.
Two plays later, the Lions tied the game after a 61-yard completion set up a 7-yard touchdown run. Dawson ended the game with 344 yards on 17 of 33 passing and the record-tying three touchdowns.
Brookwood responded again, this time faking a punt on fourth-and-7 to set up Nick Tompkins go-ahead score.
Tompkins and Cole scored three times, but the two backs combined for just 142 yards on 41 carries.
"When you are playing against people that it's difficult to move the ball against, when you get your chances you have to take them," Crews said. "I felt like I wanted to give our kids the best chance I could for them to win. We took a shot and came close and couldn't quite get there."