BROOKLAND — Thirteen yards from a first down, 15 yards from the end zone, the Brookland Bearcats faced long odds on fourth down in the final minute of Friday’s Homecoming game at Jordan’s Stadium.
One chance was all they had, but one was all they needed.
Senior quarterback Aidan Roberson rolled to his left to elude Greene County Tech’s pass rush on the fateful fourth-and-13, lofting the ball to the end zone. Senior wide receiver David York, coming back to the ball, caught Roberson’s pass in the front of the end zone for a 15-yard reception and the go-ahead touchdown with 28.8 seconds left in the game.
Gabe Guimond added the extra point and the Bearcats snuffed out the Eagles’ last-gasp possession to complete an unlikely 17-14 victory in 5A-East conference football.
Brookland (3-3, 1-2 conference) scored 10 points off turnovers in the fourth quarter to earn the victory. A goal-line stand, capped by Joseph Wright’s interception, kept the Bearcats in the game midway through the final period and they drove 51 yards to win on their last possession.
“I’m so proud of our kids. That’s fighting for four quarters of Brookland football,” Brookland coach Eric Munoz said. “We talked about it at halftime, made some adjustments. We made the plays when we had to have them. I couldn’t be more proud for our community and our school.”
After scoring when Wright broke a 65-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, the Bearcats were silent offensively for the remainder of the first half as GCT (3-3, 1-2) took a 14-7 halftime lead.
York intercepted two passes in the third quarter, but the Bearcats were unable to capitalize on either. They received another chance with 1:20 remaining in the period when Ethan Basham jarred the ball loose from GCT quarterback Camden Farmer, with Ayden Stinnett recovering the fumble for Brookland at the Eagles’ 14.
A low snap on third-and-2 pushed the Bearcats back and Guimond made a 29-yard field goal with 11:50 left in the game, pulling Brookland within 14-10.
Taking over at their 38 after the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles pounded out a drive that took them within inches of the end zone. Gage Snyder was stopped inside the 1-yard line on a 4-yard carry on first down.
The Bearcats stuffed each of the next two runs in the backfield, pushing the Eagles back to the 9 on fourth down. Farmer’s fourth-down pass over the middle was picked off by Wright, who returned the interception 46 yards to the Brookland 49 with 5:08 left in the game.
“Every week our defense makes huge plays,” Munoz said.
Stinnett, taking the snap, converted fourth-and-2 from the GCT 43 on a 10-yard run in the winning drive. After the Eagles stopped a play in the backfield, Sinquan Spratt made a difficult catch on a 27-yard pass that put Brookland on the 12-yard line.
Consecutive runs by Wright reached the 10 and the Bearcats were pushed back to the 15 by a false start penalty. A third-down pass in York’s direction fell incomplete in the end zone.
The Bearcats didn’t miss on fourth down.
“Aidan did a good job of working around the rush and getting out of the pocket, making a throw,” Munoz said. “David was wide open and made a heck of a play.”
Normally a receiver and linebacker, Roberson played quarterback with Barrett Cunningham sidelined by injury. GCT was also without its regular quarterback as Farmer played in place of Christian Barber, who was injured against Wynne.
Roberson was 9-of-15 passing for 50 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. York had three receptions for 26 yards and Spratt had two for 28. Wright led the Bearcats in rushing with 94 yards on 10 carries.
“Aidan Roberson stepped up to the plate. He did some great things for us tonight,” Munoz said. “So did Ayden Stinnett when he got back there at quarterback and we had the run game going with him.”
GCT finished with 252 total yards to 169 for Brookland, but the Bearcats forced four turnovers while losing only one.
Wright’s long run gave Brookland the lead 10 seconds into the game. GCT tied the game with 2:48 left in the first quarter when Farmer scored on a 9-yard run.
The Eagles pulled in front 14-7 on Farmer’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Brookes Reddick with 7:31 left in the second quarter. GCT had a scoring opportunity late in the first half, moving to the Brookland 32, but Farmer’s fourth-down pass was broken up by Dax Webb with 1:17 remaining.
While GCT visits Nettleton, Brookland travels to Valley View on Friday. Friday night’s victory broke a three-game losing streak for the Bearcats.
“We showed guts. I’m so happy for our kids,” Munoz said. “These seniors, they played their tails off.”