South Gwinnett 14, Brookwood 7
With its offense unable to get cranked up, Class AAAAAAA No. 9 South Gwinnett turned to its defense to beat No. 8 Brookwood 14-7 to win the “Battle of Snellville” and reclaim the Mayor’s Trophy.
The Comets (3-0) led 14-0 with 11:04 left after Terrell Smith beat double coverage to snag a 20-yard touchdown pass from Seth Johnston. But South Gwinnett was able to dig deep and hang on to beat its oldest rival.
“The first half our defense controlled the line of scrimmage,” South Gwinnett coach John Small said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a few times offensively and put ourselves in some tough spots. But our defense bailed us out the first half and that’s what it’s all about. When one side not clicking, the other side is responding. They picked each other up. We did what had to do to win the ball game.”
With 6:48 left, Brookwood drove from its own 7 to score in 15 plays. The touchdown came on a 9-yard pass from quarterback Angelo DiSpigna to receiver Nick Prince.
“We had to respond when wave started coming at the end of the game and our kids did,” Small said.
South rushed for 235 yard. Myles Barnum ran for 91 and Jalen Samuels rushed for 86.
Brookwood (2-1) got 243 yards passing from DiSpagna, but had virtually no running game after Dante Black re-injured his ankle on the seventh play of the game.
Both teams missed scoring opportunities in the first half.
Brookwood drove to the 17 but Ben McKettrick’s 33-yard field goal was blocked. The Broncos drove to the 9 and Shane Adams missed a 26-yard field goal.
Brookwood had the ball at the South 27 following a poor punt, but quarterback Angelo DiSpigna’s pass in the end zone was intercepted by Emmanuel Hopkins.
“That was the momentum swing right there,” Small said. “We had just come off on defense and Manny Hopkins is everywhere, every night. He’s been a great player for us for three years. Not the tallest guy but he’s got the biggest heart. He plays very big and that was a big play.”
That turnover set up South’s first touchdown. The Comets went 80 yards, the drive kept alive when Seth Johnston connected with Bryce White for a 22-yard gain on third-and-7. Three plays later, Myles Barnum bounced around the right end and scored on a 28-yard run.
Brookwood came back to miss another field goal, this one a 35-yarder by McKettrick that fell just short.
South, on the strength of Jalen Samuels’ 54-yard run, got the 7 with 3.4 seconds left. But the Comets didn’t like the angle of the kick and opted to fake the 25-yard field goal and Johnston’s pass over the middle was incomplete.
Brookwood coach Philip Jones said, “We talk about having grit and fighting adversity. I’m proud of the way they finished. Had every chance to roll over when they went up 14 and we battled back, made some plays and got back in the football game. But we didn’t do the things we needed to do, particularly in the first half.”
South Gwinnett has won four the last five meetings between the two rivals. Brookwood leads the all-time series 25-8.