Derrick D. Davis
The Valdosta Daily Times
Down three points with less than 30 seconds remaining, it looked like The Fitzgerald Purple Hurricanes were going to take another decisive game in Region 1-AA from the Brooks County Trojans, until they punted to Deric Herring. Herring returned the punt 70 yards with 18 seconds remaining and the Trojans outlasted Fitzgerald 27-24.
Fitzgerald dominated the time of possession and the total yards in the second half, holding the Trojans to 22 total yards, but somehow, Brooks County was able to pull out the win.
“We knew this would be a tough game,” said Maurice Freeman, Brooks County head coach. “The guys believed in it, and we said that as long as there is a tick on the clock just fight and make something happen.”
The Trojans pulled out one of the wildest and most unlikely wins of the seasons after a second half in which The Purple Hurricanes were able to drive consistently down the field and limiting Brooks County to only seven plays and one first down in the half.
“They changed up some stunts and some blitzes on us and we made some mistakes and they got us off balance there,” said Freeman. “We knew if we kept it close there was a strong possibility we’d come out on top.”
Fitzgerald had picked off Trojans quarterback Malcom Parrish with 2:14 remaining in the game and the score 24-21. After running 3 straight plays and two timeouts from Brooks County, the Trojans were able to force the punt that resulted in the game winning return.
Brooks County scored all 14 of their second half points on returns by Herring. The first coming on a 90 yard kick-off return for a touchdown after Fitzgerald had scored a touchdown to put them up 24-14 with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter.
Despite the offense’s poor performance in the second half, they actually were extremely explosive in the first half. The Trojans had seven plays that went for over 20 yards; six of them passes from Parrish. Parrish had 215 yards passing and a touchdown through the in the first half along with a touchdown on a quarterback dive to put the Trojans up 14-7 early in the game.
After managing only 56 yards of offense last season against the Purple Hurricanes, Brooks County gained 231 total yards, 225 through the air.
A sloppy game from both teams kept the game from being an even more high-scoring affair. The teams combined for five turnovers and 24 penalties on the night, four turnovers and nine flags on the Trojans. Parrish tossed three interceptions and loss a fumble.
“Well somebody’s got a lotta punishment next week,” said Freeman. “We can make up for that, they’ve gotta be conscience of it. I think we’ll clean all that up.”
Fitzgerald missed on a couple opportunities earlier in the game to put away the Trojans. They were stopped twice times on fourth down in the game, and they were held to a field goal after being stopped on a third-and-three from the Brooks County six yard line.
The win brought Brooks County to 7-0, 3-0 in the 1-AA region with a clear path to the championship. The loss dropped Fitzgerald to 5-2 (2-1).