Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
The Brooks County Trojans (12-2) started off sluggish after traveling nearly four hours to face the Lovett Lions (13-1), falling 35-12.
Quarterback Malkom Parrish caught a touchdown pass in the contest, but was picked off twice in the Trojans' second loss of the season.
“It was a great season. We made it to the final four and played the best we could. It was just not our night. We were extremely physical. We put a beating on them, but they put points on us,” said Trojans Head Coach Maurice Freeman.
Receiving the ball first, Brooks County struggled to move the ball, being forced to punt on their first possession for the first time in the playoffs.
With Lovett getting the ball, their offense milked the clock, stringing together a drive filled with runs by running back Grant Haley and quarterback Willie Candler. After a Haley fumble was ruled Brooks County's ball, the head referee changed the call to say that Haley was down by contact, extending the Lovett drive. Lovett was able to score on a touchdown pass from Candler, putting them up 7-0.
The Lions scored two more times thanks to runs by Haley of 5 and 15 yards. The Lions held the Trojans to zero points until two minutes left in the second quarter.
With Parrish struggling to make his trademark exciting plays, the Brooks County offense stalled on multiple drives in the first half, failing to score until less than two minutes remained on the clock in the first half.
Starting off the drive, Parrish bolted off on a 17-yard scramble for a Trojans first down. After an illegal substitution call against Brooks, the Trojans lined up in something different.
With Parrish and his younger brother Ijohn Parrish lined up in the backfield, Ijohn took the snap and Malkom snuck out as a receiver and caught the pass from his younger brother, and took it all the way to the end zone for an exciting 54-yard touchdown. Brooks lined up for the two-point conversion and failed, closing the half down 6-21.
During the first half, Candler was injured for Lovett, and replaced by Jack Stevenson.
To begin the second half, Lovett came out similar to the first half, running the ball with Haley for first down after first down. In the red zone, however, a trick play to Haley resulted in him throwing an interception to Brooks, giving them possession.
The Trojans were forced to punt after a 3 and out, giving the ball back to the Lions.
The Lions, with great field position from the Brooks 26, scored once more, this time on a run by running back Murphy Lee, making the score 28-6.
With Brooks receiving the ball back, the Trojans were faced with a 3rd and 9 after getting a helpful personal foul call on Lovett to give them a first down earlier in the drive.
On the 3rd and 9 with 2:11 left in the third quarter, the stadium was hit by a massive rain storm, postponing the game for nearly an hour.
When the game resumed, Parrish floated a pass to Herring for an incompletion. On 4th and 9, Parrish was sacked, giving Lovett the ball at the Brooks 35.
As Lovett drove down the field, they were rewarded with Haley scoring his third rushing touchdown of the night, pushing the score to 35-6.
With one minute left in the third quarter, running back Mitavius Brooks scored on a running play, giving the Trojans 12 points after missing the two-point conversion. The score remained 35-12 until the game's close, when Lovett was named the victor.
“We’re looking at next year now. The seniors have to decide what they will do with the rest of their lives, and the rest of us will get back in the weight room to get to working again,” said Freeman.
Haley finished the night with three rushing touchdowns for the Lions, while Brooks scored one rushing touchdown for the Trojans. The Lions will face Lamar County next Saturday for the Class 2-A State Championship game.