Dacula’s Kevin Ficklin (21) finds some running room as Brookwood defenders Casmir Isles (22) and Frank Robinson (86) try to take him down during Friday’s game. (Photo: Craig Cappy)
DACULA — With its offense stalling time and again, the Dacula defense came up with stop after stop.
Clinging to a seven-point lead in the second half, the Falcons’ offense didn’t lack for yards, just points. Twice they turned it over on downs, twice more on fumbles.
Every time the defense stopped Brookwood and finally it made its own points.
With less than four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, junior Lawson Cook rolled into his coverage in the flat, jumped right in front of a Joey McLane pass and didn’t stop until he reached the end zone 32 yards later, the final points in a 21-7 Falcons win.
“All I saw was open space and I took it,” Cook said. “I got good blocking. It took the pressure off, kind of relaxed us.”
And the pressure was building.
The Falcons’ defense played a nearly flawless third quarter, not allowing the Broncos a yard on offense but both sides remembered the first half.
Dacula used seven different running backs and 4 of 5 passing for 32 yards to build a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Falcons’ offense put together consecutive drives of 51 yards and 67 yards capping each with a touchdown. Aaron Grove found Kelan Fraise from 5 yards out on third-and-goal for the first touchdown and Jakob Brashear punched the ball across the goal line from six yards out to give the Falcons a 14-0 lead with 4:12 left in the half.
At that point, the Falcons’ defense had allowed just one Brookwood first down on 11 total yards. But with four minutes remaining in the half, the Broncos found a little offense. Brookwood picked up five first downs, driving 75 yards in 12 plays ending the drive with a 1-yard sneak from quarterback Joey McLane. McLane was 3 of 5 passing on the drive after missing on his first three attempts. He hit Matthew Price for a what looked like a 65-yard touchdown, but was called back after 32 yards on one of five Brookwood penalties in the half. After gaining just 11 yards on their first two possessions, Brookwood ended the half with 100 total yards and trailed by just a touchdown.
And that’s just where things stood again in the fourth quarter. Dacula’s defense dominating, but the score glued at 14-7. Enter the interception.
“That was a great play by Lawson Cook,” Dacula head coach Tommy Jones said, “when we needed a big play.”
Jacque Evangelister picked off McLane to end the next Brookwood drive and then the Falcons put the ball in the hands of their quarterback Grove. Grove led the team with 16 carries for 87 yards, including picking up the final two Falcons first downs before they ran out the clock. Grove was one of six different backs to carry the ball in the second half.
“We have a number of quality kids (to run the ball),” Jones said. “Offensively, obviously, we made too many mistakes.”
Aside from the turnovers, the Falcons racked up 97 penalty yards, but the offense did compile 15 first downs. And when trouble struck the defense showed up, holding Brookwood to 36 rushing yards on 19 carries and 104 yards on 6 of 23 passing with the two game-sealing touchdowns.
“We tell them all the time that if they play hard they can overcome the mistakes that we make,” Jones said.
DACULA 21, BROOKWOOD 7
Dacula: Kalan Fraise 5 pass from Aaron Grove (Nick Mattiucci kick) 11:08
Dacula: Jakob Brashear 6 run (Matiucci kick) 4:12
Brookwood: Joey McLane 1 run (Brandon Morrow kick) 0:13
Dacula: Lawson Cook 32 INT return (Matiucci kick) 3:50
Brookwood -- Dacula
RUSHING — Brookwood: Jesse Brown 16-40; R.J. Brown 1-2; McLane 2-(-6). Dacula: Grove 16-87; Jacque Evangelister 5-70; Bijon Sirleaf 9-38; C.J. Mayes 10-27; Kevin Ficklin 4-24; Fraise 4-17; Brashear 3-8.
PASSING — Brookwood: McLane 6-23-2, 104. Dacula: Grove 4-7-0, 32
RECEIVING — Brookwood: Matthew Price 2-41; DaQua Joy 2-27; Keenan Sweeney 1-27; Brown 1-9. Dacula: Fraise 3-29; Nick Mollica 1-3.