The Pacelli Vikings had finally moved the ball into Brookstone territory, thanks to a timely fumble recovery on a muffed punt.
The clock winding down in the first half, the Vikings and Cougars traded timeouts. It was fourth-and-goal at the Cougars 1-yard line.
If the Vikings were to make a dent in Brookstone’s already-sizable lead, it was now. The teams strolled to the line of scrimmage, both sets of spectators on their feet.
Pacelli quarterback Cooper Trombley handed the ball off to his running back, who lunged forward toward the end zone. One set of fans jumped and cheered in jubilation — not the home fans.
Brookstone ball, and Brookstone Jug.
It’s rare you see the nail driven into the coffin in the first half of a rivalry game as heated as Brookstone-Pacelli, but that’s what happened Friday night in the Cougars’ 36-7 win. The Broocelli Jug is Brookstone’s to keep, and convincingly so.
“Our guys were prepared,” Brookstone coach Blair Harrison said. “Our guys wanted to win the game. I think we wore ‘em down, and we executed our plan to perfection — except the muffed punt, but we still didn’t give anything up on that.
“That was almost a perfect game for us.”
Brookstone’s Wing-T offense was balanced and methodical, grounding and pounding its way down the field on the Cougars’ opening drive, which freshman running back A.J. Harris capped with a four-yard touchdown. The Cougars held the ball for 10-of-12 minutes in the opening quarter, a theme that stayed constant the entire game.
Stingy as the Cougars’ offense was, it took a moment of special-teams magic from Harris to ice the win.
Harris actually muffed the punt, then picked up the loose ball at his own 40-yard line. Helped by what looked like a block in the back, Harris darted up the middle, then toward the away sideline, then looped back to the middle and strolled into the end zone, raising his forearms as if to say, “what did I do?” Sixty two yards, touchdown and game (essentially) over.
“I saw the lane,” Harris said. “And once I saw the lane, I hit it.”
Viking defenders stared at the ground, with hands on their waists. Some put their hands on their knees in defeat. Others walked slowly back to the sideline, still taking in what just happened.
Harrison said that play was the “back-breaker.” Brookstone could have walked home with the Jug right then.
The 1-2-3 punch of Harris, who ran for 146 yards, fellow running back Sam Kilgore and fullback Dan Amos was a deadly one. Kilgore ran for 117 yards and scored a 43-yard touchdown as the third quarter winded down. Amos ran for 87 yards and scored a 33-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, punctuating a dominant night for the team that’s dominated this rivalry as of late.
The Cougars have won five straight over the Vikings and lead the all-time series 32-16-1.
This loss will hurt most for the Vikings, because this was arguably their best chance in a while to reclaim the Jug. The Vikings entered the night 4-1 and riding high after a win over Central-Talbotton.
It’s worth noting that this loss also should not define the Vikings season, as they remain in a solid position for a GHSA Class 1A playoff berth.
Friday night, though, was all about Brookstone’s rushing attack.
The Cougars totaled 360 yards of total offense, all rushing. Kilgore, Harris and Amos combined for 350 of those yards. The Cougars called one pass play, which resulted in a sack, and none more after that.
It’s not common for a Wing-T offense to have more than one featured back. Brookstone’s got three of them.
“It keeps them guessing,” Kilgore said. “They don’t know who’s getting the ball, and we’re all equally as good.”
And Brookstone need every bit of the talent the trio possess next week, when they host Marion County.
“(The win) feels good,” Kilgore said. “We’re going to do it (have the Jug) for years to come now. It’s a great feeling.”