The selection of Nate Roberts as team captain this week for South Gwinnett proved almost providential.
The senior defensive back came up with three game-changing interceptions to lead the Comets to a 35-21 win over Brookwood on Friday.
“Captain is a big role and you’ve got to take it and make it big,’ Roberts said. “We were down, the momentum had switched over to them.”
There was no doubt that the Comets wanted this victory, their first in the series since 2015. Coach Steve Davenport admitted his team had the “Battle of Snellville” circled on the calendar since last summer.
“We wanted this one,” Davenport said. “They got us pretty good last year. This one means a lot to us.”
Brookwood won 34-0 in 2018, 28-0 in 2017 and 35-7 in 2016 and held a 28-8 lead in the series. It appeared to be headed the same way on Friday when the Broncos scored on their first play from scrimmage and jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
“I kept telling everyone, ’Keep your head up, keep your head up … 14 points isn’t that much,’” Roberts said. “We could do it.”
South set its victory in motion in the third quarter when they tied the game at 14-14. The Comets drove 92 yards and converted a fourth-and-1 during the drive. Remari Hudson, working from the Wildcat, went 39 yards to the Brookwood 2 and powered in for a touchdown on the next play to tied the score with 4:40 left in the quarter.
South’s Brandon Rowland recovered the ensuing onside kick, but the Comets were denied the end zone when Jordan Davenport tackled Hudson for a loss on fourth-and-goal.
But Brookwood turned the ball over on its next possession. Quarterback Jack Spyke, under heavy pressure, threw the ball up for grabs and Roberts grabbed the interception, his second of the game.
“I just had to adjust and react,” Roberts said.
South scored on its next play, with quarterback Tre Truitt scrambling for a 23-yard touchdown.
The Bronco overcame a turnover on its next possession and tied the game in the fourth quarter on Eli Kohl’s 21-yard run.
But the Comets regained the lead 28-21 when Truitt connected with Deshawn Robinson for a 26-yard touchdown.
The Broncos stopped South at the goal line and had two final chances in the final four minutes, but couldn’t score. The deal-breaker came when Jameer Alves picked off a pass near the sideline and returned it for a 35-yard touchdown.
Brookwood scored on its first play of the game. After forcing South to go 3-and-out on its first possession, the Broncos set up play at their own 32. The ball was handed to Eli Kohl, who burst through the line and raced untouched for a 68-yard touchdown.
South Gwinnett drove to the Brookwood 16 on its next possession, but came up empty on three passes and turned it over on downs.
Brookwood took a 14-0 lead, with Kohl again playing a big part. He broke up the middle for a 69-yard run, only to be dragged down at the 6. After each team exchanged a pair of penalties, the Broncos scored when Jack Spyke found T.J. Burdian crossing on the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown.
South Gwinnett was able to break through for on touchdown on its next possession. Quarterback Tre Truitt did most of the damage himself, running for 14 and 20 yards before scampering for a 29-yard touchdown.
Neither team was able to score in the second quarter. Brookwood pushed the ball to the 16, but on third-and-7, South’s Nate Roberts came back to make a nice interception on Dylan Lonergan’s pass.
The Broncos had another drive come up short before halftime. A 32-yard pass from Spyke to Burdian set Brookwood up at the 27, but the offense couldn’t generate another first down and Jonah Randle’s 37-yard field goal was no good.