Bounce-back Broncos rally to upset No. 1 Lassiter

Brookwood's #14 Zach Moon

Brookwood's #14 Zach Moon

MARIETTA -- Improbable doesn't even begin to describe Brookwood's chances of victory after spotting Lassiter the first 21 points of their first-round Class AAAAAA state playoff game.

Yet after giving up almost 200 yards of total offense in the first quarter and a half and not finding the end zone for the first three quarters, the Broncos somehow found a way.

A 15-point fourth quarter comeback was capped by Zach Moon's 5-yard touchdown pass to Ky Priester with just eight seconds left in regulation and forced overtime, where Colin Cotter's interception set up Brandon Morrow's third field goal of the game -- a 32-yarder -- to lift the Broncos to a 24-21 upset of the top-ranked Trojans on Friday night at Frank Fillman Stadium.

"To see the look in those kids' eyes and to know the satisfaction they have in putting all that effort in and coming back to win that football game is something they'll remember the rest of their lives," a jubilant Brookwood coach Mark Crews said afterward. "I'm just so proud of our kids to keep fighting and not giving up and coming back against a really good football team. I guess probably everybody in the stadium counted us out by about the middle of the second quarter. But our kids didn't quit."

Indeed, it didn't look good for Brookwood (7-4), which advances to the second round to play Mill Creek for a rematch of a game from the second week of the middle of the season, after Lassiter (10-1) established momentum early by coming up big on fake punt attempts near midfield on the game's opening two possessions.

The Trojans dropped Josh Brown for a loss on Brookwood's attempt to take over at the Lassiter 45-yard line, and then successful on its fake three plays later, with Josh Danforth rumbling 7 yards for a first down to keep the drive alive.

Four plays later, Lane Jackman rolled around the left end for a 15-yard score to put the Trojans up 7-0 with 6:35 left in the first quarter.

Lassiter then used an effective ground game, led by Jackman (13 carries, 72 yards) and Hakim Shahid, to turn a Brookwood fumble and punt into two more scores to take what seemed like a commanding 21-0 lead Danforth's 4-yard with 7:27 left in the first half.

But from that point on, the Brookwood defense began to clamp down, holding the Trojans to just 33 yards on the ground and 95 total yards after going into halftime down 21-3.

The Broncos were particularly effective in holding down Lassiter's high-powered passing game, limiting Missouri-bound quarterback Eddie Printz -- who came into the game having thrown for 2,621 yards and 26 TDs -- to just 132 yards on 15 of 30 passing.

"We had some things we were doing on defense that obviously weren't working very well (in the first half)," Crews said. "Then our defensive guys made some adjustments and got them slowed down running the ball a little bit. And we quit fumbling the ball and shooting ourselves in the foot on offense. It was like two totally different teams."

Still, the offense didn't begin its turnaround until heading into the fourth quarter with Lassiter still enjoying a seemingly comfortable 21-6 lead.

But a big 56-yard catch and run by Jamaal Cole on a screen from Moon finally put Brookwood in position to score, and Josh Brown did just that by running in from 3 yards out on the next snap.

Moon then dove into the end zone for the two-point conversion, and the Broncos were suddenly within one score at 21-14 with 6:44 still left in regulation.

And when the Brookwood defense forced Lassiter into another punt to give the Broncos the ball back with 3:23 left, Moon and his cohorts were beginning to believe in themselves.

"We've had confidence all along," Moon said. "Breaks go your way, they don't go your way. We finally started to get the breaks going our way towards the end."

But Moon and the Broncos had to make their own breaks on that last drive, especially facing fourth and 7 on their own 39-yard line with under three minutes to play.

The senior quarterback found Cotter on a wheel route for 8 yards to just pick up the first down and keep the drive alive at the 47.

Completions to Josh Moore, Brown and Priester -- the latter a 20-yard strike -- brought the ball down to the Lassiter 5, where Moon looked for the N.C. State-bound receiver again.

And he found him in the right corner of the end zone with 0:08 showing on the clock, and Morrow's extra point tied the game at 21-21.

But the Broncos weren't out of the woods yet after Lassiter's Willie Police picked up the ensuing squib kick at his own 10, found a seam up the left sideline and appeared to have a chance to score the winning TD as time ran out.

But a trio of Brookwood defenders managed to pull him down 70 yards later at the 20 to force the extra period.

That's where Cotter came up with a leaping grab and got one foot inbounds to pick off Printz in the end zone, and Crews wasted no time in setting up for the game-winner.

And Morrow, who had field goals of 35 and 41 yards earlier in the night, booted this attempt from 32 yards through the uprights and sending the Brookwood sideline, and the Broncos fans in the crowd, into a frenzy.


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