Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
Seventh-ranked Brooks County (5-1, 2-0) earned a key region win Friday night in Quitman, as the Trojans used a 71-yard touchdown pass from Malkom Parrish to Deric Herring with 2:48 left in the game to knock off the Thomasville Bulldogs (3-3, 1-1) by a touchdown, 30-23.
After Thomasville jumped ahead 10-0 early in the game, partially due to two Brooks County turnovers in the red zone, the Trojans and the ‘Dogs became locked in a crucial seesaw battle for first place in region 1-AA.
Running back Mitavious Brooks got Brooks County on the scoreboard early in the second quarter with a 38-yard scamper, but the Trojans could not manage much else on the ground or through the air in the first half.
We weren’t very good in the first half,” Brooks County Head Coach Maurice Freeman said of his team after the Trojans committed five first half penalties and failed to score on two trips in the red zone, including a fumble on the goal line by senior quarterback Malkom Parrish.
The second half, however, belonged to Brooks County.
Parrish, along with wideouts Herring and Exavius Medlock, led the Brooks County charge in the game’s final two quarters.
Parrish scrambled for a pair of crucial touchdown runs, both of which helped Brooks County regain the lead. Like Parrish, Medlock and Herring did the
majority of their damage in the second half.
Medlock hauled in five passes for 98 yards, and Herring caught five balls for 107 yards, including the game-winning touchdown.
We played hard in the second half, the players listened to what the coaches asked them to do, and we stopped making those big mental mistakes,” Freeman said. “It turned out to be a great game.”
Thomasville didn’t make Brooks County’s second region win easy, however, as the ‘Dogs executed their game plan to near-perfection, feeding running back Mario Cherry the ball and using a short-yardage and screen passing attack in an attempt to keep the Trojans off balance.
Cherry, who handled all of the running duties for Thomasville, finished the game with 97 yards on a whopping 27 carries.
Javier McGriff did the majority of Thomasville’s damage through the air, catching a screen pass for a 45-yard touchdown after Bulldog quarterback Payton Dixon ran a play fake to Cherry. The catch was one of seven for McGriff, while Dixon finished the game 15 of 23 for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
Every time Thomasville scored, however, Brooks County managed to respond. After the Trojans fell behind 23-22 late in the fourth quarter, Thomasville forced a 4th and 5 for the Trojans deep in Brooks County territory.
On fourth down, however, Parrish used a different snap count to force the ‘Dogs offsides, one of only three Thomasville penalties, to keep the drive alive. On the next play, Parrish found the aforementioned Herring on a fly route down the home sideline to give Brooks County the victory. Herring caught Parrish’s pass in between two Thomasville defenders, managed to keep his footing and stay in bounds, and outran the Bulldog’s secondary for the winning score.
Freeman was highly-complimentary of his senior quarterback after the game and was pleased with the way Parrish responded after turning the ball over in a key situation early in the game. Parrish resoundingly answered the early adversity, finishing the game 13 for 17 for 278 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Parrish also added twelve carries for 92 yards and two scores.
“Malkom is a warrior; he just makes things happen for us. Every now and then he’s going to make a mistake, but I’ll take that. I like him on my team way better than I would like him on anybody else’s team,” said Freeman.
With the win Friday night, Brooks County, who is 2-0 in the region, moved into a tie for first place in 1-AA with the Fitzgerald Purples Hurricanes. As fate would have it, the Trojans will travel to Fitzgerald next Friday night with sole possession of first place on the line. The winner of the game will move to 3-0 and control their own destiny for the remainder of the season.
Still, Maurice Freeman knows his team has room to improve despite the Trojans early region success.
“We have got to minimize our mistakes,” Freeman commented on the key’s to next week’s showdown. “We have to continue to play physical football, run the ball like we are right now, and we have to play good run defense. I think if we do that and correct our mistakes on our kickoff team, we can pull it off.”