Brookwood scored two touchdowns without running a play to open the second half and rode that momentum to a 35-28 win over Tift County on Friday at Brookwood Community Stadium.
The No. 7 Broncos trailed 21-14 at halftime, but quickly evened the scored when Matthew Hill returned the second-half kickoff for a 97-yard touchdown. On Tift’s third play, Kendall Williams intercepted a pass and took it back 28 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly the Broncos had a 28-21 lead.
Brookwood (11-2) will host the Class AAAAAAA semifinal game against Colquitt County. No. 6 Tift County’s season ends at 11-2.
“I went into the half and was telling my boys, ‘I’m going to take it back to the crib,’” Hill said. “I guess that’s what happened. I had to set the tone. I knew once we set that tone coming out of halftime, it was going to be hard to stop us.”
While Hill’s return changed the flow of the game, Williamson’s pick-six put the momentum fully behind the Broncos.
“I feel like when we came back in the second half with those two touchdowns, the game was in our hands,” Williamson said. “It was ours to win.”
Tift tried to respond. The Blue Devils drove from their own 12 to the Brookwood 4. But Williamson tipped away a pass on second down and Michael Killebrew intercepted a pass in the end zone to thwart the threat.
Brookwood went up 35-21 by driving 86 yards for a touchdown with 7:54 remaining on Hill’s 1-yard run. But Tift answered with a 70-yard pass from Griffin Collier to Rashood Bateman that cut the lead to 35-28 with 5:42 left.
Brookwood started at its own 5 after Hill fumbled and somehow recovered the loose ball. The Broncos, sparked by a 19-yard pass from Angelo DiSpigna to Hill on third down at the 9, drove it to the Tift County 22 before turning it over on downs. Tift had no more timeouts and the game was quickly over.
DiSpigna completed 12 of 19 passes for 133 yards. Dante Black rushed 23 times for 124 yards and touchdown runs of 10 and 26 yards. Hill carried nine times for 98 yards and caught four passes for 46 yards.
“We felt the momentum against us the whole first half,” Brookwood coach Philip Jones said. “That (kickoff return) really flipped the momentum. The pick-six after that kind of secured the momentum for a while. Those were two big plays.”
Tift County quarterback Griffin Collier completed 15 of 25 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns, all of them to Rashod Bateman, who caught nine balls for 187 yards. Bateman had touchdown receptions of 13, 32 and 70 yards. Tift County back Mike Jones rushed 20 times for 126 yards.
Brookwood has won 11 straight since opening the season with two losses.
“It’s crazy,” DiSpigna said. “Starting the season 0-2, you might never have thought this. But this team loves each other and plays for each other and we’re not done yet.”