Special to the Times
For three quarters Friday night, the matchup between the best and worst teams in region 1-AA was everything it wasn’t expected to be.
The game’s final quarter, however, showed why Brooks County is one of the favorites heading into the AA playoffs next week.
After finding themselves down by as many as 12 and trailing midway through the fourth quarter, Brooks County (9-1, 6-0) launched an aerial assault headed by Georgia-commit Malkom Parrish and receiver Derrick Herring to overcome the upset bid from visiting Berrien County (3-7, 0-6) and win the team’s regular season finale 38-27.
“We made a lot of mistakes,” admitted Brooks County head coach Maurice Freeman, whose team has now won seven games in a row in the 2013 season and back-to-back region titles the last two years. “But in the second half we came back and we fought hard. We made some big plays and I’m certainly proud of our effort.”
After sitting out quarterback Parrish in the first quarter for unspecified reasons, Freeman’s squad was jump-started when Parrish took the field to start the second.
Almost immediately, Brooks County drove down the field and Mitavious Brooks capped the scoring drive with an 18-yard plunge that cut Berrien’s lead to four.
The team’s then traded scores, as Berrien County’s rushing attack, headed by senior running back Taylor Griner, held on to the lead for the Rebels. Griner finished the game with 137 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
As Brooks County trailed 27-24 at the start of the fourth quarter, Parrish found star-wideout Herring up the sideline for a 68-yard touchdown, his second of the game, that saw Herring elude multiple Rebel defenders before reaching the end zone to give the Trojans a 32-27 lead.
When Berrien County’s following drive stalled out, Brooks County delivered the game’s knockout blow when Parrish threw a screen pass to Exavius Medlock. As Medlock was being tackled behind the line of scrimmage, the receiver threw a pass to a wide-open Nate Vick in the end zone to push the Trojans’ lead to two possessions and ultimately ice the game.
Parrish finished the game 9 of 14 for 117 yards and two scores through the air, and 35 yards on nine carries on the ground.
Sophomore backup quarterback Demontay Jones also saw playing time and played well, adding 50 rushing yards. Herring was the leading receiver for the Trojans, catching four passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
After his team’s win, Freeman indicated that his team is already looking forward to improving for the playoffs.
“We have to eliminate mental mistakes,” Freeman asserted. “Defensively, we have to tackle better. On offense, we have to stop looking for the big play every time. We have to continuously grind and methodically find ways to put the ball in the end zone.”
And what should the rest of AA expect if Brooks County can improve in these areas?
“Our goal is to play in the dome, so expect us there,” Freeman concluded.