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Photo by Jon Barash
Photo by Jon Barash

Brookwood won its first state title since 1996 by besting a Cinderella Colquitt County team that had made the finals as a five-loss No. 3 seed. The 52-38 Broncos win saw some scintillating offense from both sides, but it was ultimately Colquitt’s inability to protect the ball — combined with special teams dominance by Brookwood — that would be the difference in the game.
The 90 combined points were a state finals record for all classifications. Colquitt County amassed 609 total yards — 255 rushing and 354 passing — and a ridiculous 38 first downs. Brookwood put up a more than respectable 384 total yards, yet were never seriously threatened by Colquitt in the second half.
Three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), combined with a Broncos kickoff return TD and a bad snap on a punt that gave Brookwood the ball at the CCHS 6, helped doom the Packers’ chances.
Colquitt got started off on the right foot with a strong opening drive using the pass with QB Tyler Brown and capping off an 80-yard march with a Damien Bentley 1-yard TD run. But Brookwood came right back with a 73-yard drive, all with the feet of Nick Tompkins, who also rumbled in from 8 yards out to tie the game.
The defense picked up a bit after the opening two drives. Colquitt, however, wasn’t content to punt the ball away after a Brookwood stop, and attempted a seemingly successful fake punt to pick up the first down. But an illegal formation penalty nullified the gain, and a bad snap on the actual punt attempt sailed over the punter’s head to give Brookwood the ball at the Colquitt 6. Jamaal Cole promptly punched it in to make it 14-7.
The Packers answered with a long drive of their own, powered by lightning-quick tailback Tevin King, who took it in from 8 yards to tie it up.
The teams then traded turnovers when Brookwood’s Ben McLane threw a pass that was tipped and picked off by CCHS, But the Packers gave it right back with a pick of their own to star LB Cam Lynch of Brookwood. The Broncos would capitalize with a 21-yard strike from McLane to a wide-open Nathaniel Minor in the end zone to make it 21-14.
A missed Colquitt field goal from 37 out gave BHS another chance to tack onto its lead before halftime. Cole was the star of the drive, ripping off runs of 14 and 55 yards to set up his own 11-yard score … 28-14 Broncos.
The last drive of the half contained some heroics for Colquitt, as well as good fortune. They converted a fourth-down gamble deep in their own territory with less than a minute to go in the half, then benefited from two 15-yard penalties inside of 10 seconds to keep the drive alive and allow Brown to hit Tommy Hudson for a TD with no time on the clock. BHS 28, CCHS 21.
If the Packers felt confident coming into the second half of play after that turn of events, Andre Sims stole that feeling away and sprinted 87 yards with it. Sims ran away from several tacklers with angles to go the distance and put it back to two scores, 35-21.
A Colquitt fumble worsened matters, and gave Brookwood’s Eric Yang a chance to show off his leg after the ensuing Broncos drive stalled. Yang nailed a 41-yarder with ample room to spare to make it 38-21 with 8:17 to go in the third.
Colquitt’s King answered right back, single-handedly willing the Pack into the end zone on a series of incredible runs through the Brookwood defense.
We entered the fourth quarter with a 38-28 Brookwood lead, but another deflating CCHS turnover in the form of a Reeves Blankenship interception gave the Broncos another short field. Cole struck again shortly after with an 11-yard TD run.
Colquitt made it a two-score game yet again with a short FG … 45-31 B-wood with under six minutes to go. A recovered onside kick by Brookwood made the rest of the game essentially academic, as the Broncos kept the ball on the ground with Tompkins and Company and tacked on another score to make it 52-31. A never-say-die drive from CCHS cut it to two scores one more time, but that was all she wrote. The Broncos get the state title with a 14-1 season, and Colquitt finishes with the unusual record of 9-6.
Individual stats of note … King was the high rusher with 205 yards on 20 attempts, and Tompkins picked up 144 on 23 carries. Brown was 33-of-46 for the Packers, hitting Hudson 11 times for 127 yards and a score. But Brown’s interceptions set the Colquitt offense back when it needed to sustain drives.
Amazingly, McLane completed eight passes to eight different receivers.
Rush Propst’s third year at Colquitt will be considered a rousing success despite the six losses, and the Packers will look to challenge Valdosta and Lowndes for Region 1 supremacy.
Brookwood returns Tompkins and Cole, but does lose a good bit of senior talent and leadership.