In a series of tight football games, both Brookwood and Parkview have their share of nail-biting wins.
But the closest, and wackiest, finishes always seemed to go the Panthers' way -- that is, until Friday night's 23-19 win by the host Broncos at Brookwood Community Stadium.
Parkview had written the majority of the memorable chapters in the Battle of Five Forks-Trickum, starting with a late, game-winning field goal in 1988. The series' greatest games previously were in 1999 and 2000, last-second Panther wins on touchdown passes -- Buster Faulkner to Nick Chonko in 1999 and Clint Sammons to Kirk Alexander in overtime (and a two-point conversion) in 2000.
Brookwood did its best to top those finishes Friday in a game that saw four lead changes and four TDs in the final two minutes. The most improbable was the game-winner, an 80-yard kickoff return TD from senior Nick Tompkins.
"The bounced pass (Sammons to Alexander, which Bronco fans thought hit the ground), the Chonko pass, losing by a point," Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said. "We've been on the other end of games like that, too. I guess we got our shot to get one back this year."
The closing sequence of events turned what looked like a routine defensive battle, with Brookwood leading 10-6, into a track meet.
Here's a recap of the unbelievable finish:
Facing a third-and-31 from their own 19-yard line, Jack Esmonde finds Jordan Reid for an 81-yard TD with just 2:01 left, putting the Panthers up 13-10
Brookwood answered with a three-play scoring drive, capped by a 56-yard pass from Zach Moon to B.J. Sammon for a 17-13 edge with 1:34 left
A kickoff return to midfield sets up Parkview to score in four plays, the last one a 33-yard TD from Esmonde to Reid with 32 seconds left that put the guests up 19-17
Tompkins takes the kickoff near the Bronco sideline, changes course to the other side of the field and sprints to the game-winning score
Wolves shine in gold jerseys
Buford head coach Jess Simpson had a surprise for his seniors after Friday night's pre-game senior night introductions.
When the players returned to the locker room, gold colored jerseys were waiting for the players instead of the traditional green home jerseys.
"We've been saving those for a long time. I'm sure I'll hear about it from the other senior classes," Simpson said. "They've been asking for them for a long time and tonight was the night to break them out."
Buford shined in the jerseys on Friday, beating No. 3 ranked Greater Atlanta Christian 28-0. The win improved the four-time defending state champions to 9-0 for the season.
The jerseys were gold with green numbers and white trim and recent senior classes have been asking to wear for the past few years. So it was quite a surprise when they were laid out in each players locker.
"All the coaches said they've never seen the kids react like that," Simpson said.
Some players related the reaction to celebrating the state championship.
"We were all going crazy for about 10 minutes," Buford senior Vadal Alexander said.
So why all the uproar over some different uniorms?
"Just look at them, they look good," Alexander said with a smile.
Strange days, indeed
Mill Creek came up on the short end of a 29-7 decision to No. 6 state-ranked North Gwinnett on Friday night at Tom Robinson Stadium.
However, it did come up on the positive end of two of the strangest plays of the 2011 season -- both of which occurred in the second quarter -- thanks to the determination of quarterback John Russ and the quick thinking of punter Jacob Bowes..
First, Russ refused to give up on a play after North's Carl Rider had picked up a fumble at the Mill Creek 42 and returned it 8 yards to the 34.
The senior quarterback ripped the ball out of Rider's hands as he was falling to the turf, not only giving the Hawks possession again, but giving them a first down due to the two changes in possession.
The next came later about seven minutes later when Bowes was barely able to get in front of an errant long snap.
Instead of panicking, Bowes -- a former soccer and rugby player -- was able to boot the ball from off the ground and send it 26 yards to midfield.
"He moved in from England a few years ago and he's played rugby before," Mill Creek coach Shannon Jarvis said of Bowes. "That was a head's up play."
-- Sports Editor Will Hammock and staff writers Brandon Brigman and David Friedlander contributed to this report