SUWANEE — Friday night’s first-round state playoff game was indicative of Brookwood’s season. The Broncos struggled early, but rebounded to come out on top, beating Region 6-AAAAAA No. 2 seed Lambert 35-16.
Rain pounded both teams in the first half and both struggled to hang onto the ball. But as the rain went away in the second half, so did the Broncos’ struggles as running back Jesse Brown had three touchdowns of 50 or more yards, finishing the night with 239 yards and another touchdown.
“Any win at this point in the season is a good win,” said Brookwood head coach Mark Crews. “We turned the ball over early to help them, and then they turned around and helped us.”
In total, the game saw 10 fumbles, six of which were lost, and two interceptions.
Lambert (6-5) got on the scoreboard first, going 16 plays and 80 yards in 6:49.
Brookwood (6-5) almost forced Lambert to a three-and-out on the first drive, but a defensive pass interference call kept the drive going. And while the Longhorns only had three plays on the drive that went more than 10 yards, they chipped away at the Broncos a little bit at a time. Lambert finally got into the end zone on a 12-yard completion from quarterback Tucker Maxwell to Houston Earnest to make the score 7-0.
The ensuing kickoff saw the Broncos fumble the ball and turn it back over to the Longhorns on the 22-yard line. But Lambert was unable to convert it into points as a Tanner Hall 36-yard field goal went wide left.
Brookwood finally came out on offense late in the first quarter, but went three-and-out. On fourth down, Lambert blocked the punt, and again put itself in business. This time, Hall converted a 32-yard field goal to put the Longhorns up 10-0.
As if the two mistakes earlier weren’t big enough, Brookwood again lost on fumble in their own territory, turning the ball back over to the Longhorns. But the rain finally started getting to the Longhorns as well as Maxwell put the ball on the ground on the next play, as Brookwood’s Hobson McCain recovered.
A three-and-out forced Brookwood to punt again, but Lambert again put the ball on the ground to give the ball back over to the Broncos midway through the second quarter. This time, the Broncos made the Longhorns pay.
On fourth down, Joey McLane found Mike Allen wide open on the right side for a 33-yard touchdown completion, to make the score 10-7.
After Lambert shanked a punt, Brookwood was back in business on the Lambert 31-yard line. Four plays later, Brown scored his first of four touchdowns on the evening, this one from the 3-yard line to put the Broncos up 14-10.
McLane threw an interception on Brookwood’s first possession of the second half, but Lambert repaid his kindness with a turnover on its own, this time it was Kevin Knight with the recovery. Then, after the Longhorns held the Broncos to a three-and-out, they fumbled the punt return to give the ball back to the Broncos.
But McLane threw an interception after his pass was tipped, giving the ball back to the Longhorns. But still, Lambert couldn’t do anything with it.
After forcing Lambert to turn the ball over on downs, the Brookwood running game started getting going. On a fourth-and-1 play, Brown got three tough yards for a first down. For his efforts, the offensive line gave him a big hole on the next play as he took it 56 yards for the touchdown, making the score 21-10 with 1:20 to go in the third quarter.
“Jesse will be the first to tell you those big runs were because of the offensive line,” Crews said. “The big runs helped his stats, but the short, tough runs were a big part of the game.”
The Broncos opened up the game midway through the fourth quarter on a one-play drive that saw Brown go 51 yards for the touchdown, making the score 28-10.
“The offensive line was big all night,” Brown said. “I had the full faith and confidence in them to make holes for me. It was just about being patient.”
Lambert added its final score of the night after another Brookwood fumble, this time inside the 10-yard line. On the first play, Hayden McLeod found Chris Laye for a nine-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was missed, leaving the score at 28-16.
To ensure the game was put away, Brookwood again went to Brown. And again he delivered, going for a 55-yard run and a touchdown, to bring the game to its final score.
McLane finished the night 8-for-19 for 97 yards.
For Lambert, Maxwell finished 8-for-18 for 99 yards, while also having 48 yards on the ground.
Brookwood will now travel to Norcross of the second round of the playoffs. The last time the two teams met was in the second round of the 2010 state playoffs in which the Broncos won 34-24, en route to the state title.
“We’ve been knocked down all year, but we’ve gotten back up to throw another punch,” Crews said. “We’re going to go in there and give them our best shot.”
Brookwood 0 14 7 14 — 35
Lambert 10 0 0 6 — 16
Lambert: Houston Earnest 12 pass from Tucker Maxwell (Tanner Hall kick) 5:11
Lambert: Hall 32 field goal :10
Brookwood: Mike Allen 33 pass from Joey McLane (Brandon Morrow kick) 7:11
Brookwood: Jesse Brown 3 run (Morrow kick) 3:22
Brookwood: Brown 56 run (Morrow kick) 1:20
Brookwood: Brown 51 run (Morrow kick) 7:30
Lambert: Chris Laye 9 pass from Hayden McLeod (conversion failed)
Brookwood: Brown 55 run (Morrow kick) 2:05