LAWRENCEVILLE — For the first time in school history, Archer left the field victors against Brookwood after a 25-20 win on Friday night.
The win didn’t come easy, however, as Archer got behind 20-19 after giving up a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown.
But for quarterback Gabe Tiller, who was 28-for-41 for 292 yards and three touchdowns, he knew he had to regain his focus to lead his team back.
“My teammates picked me up,” he said. “They gave me the confidence I needed to get back going.”
Although Archer (3-0, 1-0 Region 8-AAAAAA) punted on its next drive, it got the ball back with more than eight minutes left on the clock and drove downfield.
Completions to Connor Redmond and K.J. Parmer moved Archer into Brookwood territory. Dylan Singleton then rushed to left, gaining 26 yards down to the 4-yard line. Two plays later, Duane Lee scored from the 1-yard line to give the Tigers the lead.
Quinn Miller then intercepted Brookwood quarterback Joey McLane, swinging all momentum to the Tigers.
Archer ran the clock and ended up punting with 38 seconds to go. But Brookwood (0-3, 0-1) wasn’t able to do anything with the ball as John Gillis III took the ball from midair after Singleton laid a big hit on the Brookwood receiver, effectively ending the game.
“It’s a huge win for our kids,” said Archer head coach Andy Dyer. “I can’t say enough about what they did. They’re finally seeing the fruits of their labor.”
Archer got things going on its first drive after a Brookwood punt as Tiller completed six passes for 53 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown pass to Redmond on third down.
For Redmond, who finished the game with 10 catches for 121 yards after missing the first two games, being back on the field is something he doesn’t take for granted.
“It feels amazing to be back out here,” Redmond said. “I never imagined I would have this kind of night.”
Brookwood got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter, getting a 22-yard field goal by Brandon Morrow to make the score, 7-3.
But Archer answered as it drove 80 yards in 12 plays to extend its lead. Tiller found Redmond three times on the drive for 52 yards, before Kyle Davis caught a 23-yard pass for the touchdown, giving Archer a 13-3 lead.
Brookwood responded by going 65 yards in four plays, with the big run coming from Jesse Brown for 55 yards and the touchdown.
Then, right before halftime, Archer drove down the field once again as Tiller was responsible all 85 yards, with 45 yards coming through the air. The final pass went to Davis for 25 yards and Archer had a 19-10 lead at halftime.
The Tigers had a chance to put the game away midway through the third quarter, but fell short on a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
Brookwood responded with an 82-yard rush by Davis to get the ball down to the 17-yard line. However, the Broncos had to settle for a field goal, making the score 19-13.
“Our kids continued to fight all night,” said Brookwood head coach Mark Crews. “You can’t fault them because they played with a lot of effort.”
The Broncos continued with the momentum as Nick Aube picked off a Tiller pass and took it back 65 yards to give Brookwood its first lead of the game, 20-19.
But in the end, it wasn’t enough as Archer put together a game-winning drive and held off the Broncos on their final three drives.
“We just struggled to make plays all night,” Crews said. “We had a couple of good runs, but we have to do a better job at sustaining our blocks.”
Heading into the matchup with Brookwood, many people wanted to talk about Archer losing its last two games to the Broncos by a combined three points.
But for Dyer, it wasn’t about the last two years.
“This wasn’t about the last two years,” he said. “It’s a new year, new season. It’s about the kids we have this year.”
Besides Tiller and Redmond, other Tigers had big nights as well. Randy Nails finished with 81 yards on 16 carries, while Parmer and Davis had 61 and 58 yards receiving, respectively.
For Brookwood, McLane finished 9-for-19 for 132 yards, while Brown had 176 yards rushing.
Brookwood 0 10 10 0 - 20
Archer 7 12 0 6 - 25
Archer: Connor Redmond 9 pass from Gabe Tiller (Michael Frye kick) 7:53
Brookwood: Brandon Morrow 22 field goal 11:51
Archer: Kyle Davis 23 pass from Tiller (kick failed) 6:23
Brookwood: Jesse Brown 55 run (Morrow kick) 5:43
Archer: Davis 25 pass from Tiller (kick failed) :11
Brookwood: Morrow 26 field goal 2:41
Brookwood: Nick Aube 65 interception return (Morrow kick) :15
Archer: Duane Lee 1 run (conversion failed) 5:40