Brookwood's Matt Price intercepts a pass during the Broncos' win over Central Gwinnett (Photo: Ann Borowski)
SNELLVILLE — To the bitter end, Brookwood’s football team couldn’t rely on its decades-old method of offense.
The Broncos were stuffed on fourth-and-short late in the fourth quarter Friday by Kaleb Catching and the charging Berkmar front, a theme on a homecoming night when Brookwood rushed for just 74 yards.
Fortunately for the hosts, they found a workaround.
Joey McLane completed 15 of 26 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown, the defense was stout and Brookwood defeated Berkmar 14-0 for Region 8-AAAAAA victory. It was the third straight win for the Broncos, who were 4-4 overall and 4-2 in the region after an 0-3 start.
Berkmar (3-5, 1-5) held the running game mostly in check, limiting Brookwood leading rusher Jesse Brown to 55 yards on 23 carries.
“They had seven or eight up there (in the tackle box) and their safeties were really downhill players,” Brookwood head coach Mark Crews said of Berkmar. “We did what we had to do. … When they do that kind of stuff where they say, ‘We’ve got more people than you, you can’t run the ball,’ you’ve got to be able to throw it. We did that. We moved the ball and we flipped the field. Then we just couldn’t punch the ball in when we had to a couple of times. If we had done that, we could have opened up a little distance. But give their defense credit, we weren’t able to do that.”
Brookwood got all the points it needed early in the second quarter, when McLane used a play-action pass to find Matthew Price for a 59-yard touchdown. It was part of a big night for Price, who had three catches for 68 yards, along with an interception and a fumble recovery on defense.
Mike Allen led the Broncos with six catches for 89 yards, Jesse Brown had three catches for 13 yards, Nick Aube had two catches for 20 yards and Keenan Sweeney added a 28-yard catch.
“They have a really big defensive line,” McLane said of Berkmar. “You can’t underestimate Berkmar. They’re always going to play Brookwood strong and they have good athletes.”
Berkmar’s Derrious Mitchell blocked a Bronco field goal attempt to end the first half, but the hosts went up two scores in the third quarter on Brown’s 6-yard TD run. It capped an eight-play drive that featured a big third-and-10 pass for 17 yards from McLane to Allen.
That was more than enough for a Brookwood defense that got two tackles for losses each from DaVonte Boyd and Hobby McCain. Berkmar threw for just 37 yards and rushed for 103 yards, but 50 of that came on a last-gasp drive.
Brookwood, which hasn’t lost to Berkmar since 1986, continues to push closer to a postseason berth that seemed a reach during its 0-3 start.
“I think we just want it more now,” McLane said. “Now that we’re on a run and we’ve got momentum going finally, we just want it more. We actually think we can get in the playoffs and get a good spot.”
BROOKWOOD 14, BERKMAR 0
Berkmar 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brookwood 0 7 7 0 - 14
Brookwood: Matthew Price 59 pass from Joey McLane (Brandon Morrow kick) 9:37
Brookwood: Jesse Brown 6 run (Morrow kick) :03