Grayson 58, Brookwood 17

Grayson running back Phil Mafah (26) dives into the end zone to complete an 82-yard TD catch in Friday's 58-17 victory over Brookwood.

Credit: Jason Getz/Special to the AJC

Credit: Jason Getz/Special to the AJC

Grayson running back Phil Mafah (26) dives into the end zone to complete an 82-yard TD catch in Friday's 58-17 victory over Brookwood.

The question around the Grayson football program for the last two weeks has been which quarterback would start — De’yon Cannon, a sophomore who has been with program all year, or Jake Garcia, the twice-transferred four-star prospect who is headed to Southern Cal.

Turns out it doesn’t matter as long as Grayson has Phil Mafah is in the backfield.

The powerful senior running back rushed for three touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass to help the Class 7A No. 1-ranked Rams post a 58-17 road victory over Brookwood.

“He’s the best running back in the state,” Grayson coach Adam Carter said. “It’s fun to sit back and watch. I told our coaching staff that we’d never have a chance to coach another player like him again. He’s that good.”

Mafah carried 12 times for 85 yards and surpassed the 1,000-yard mark; he entered the game with 983 yards. The Clemson commit caught two passes for 105 yards and one touchdown. He did not play most of the second half.

The victory sets up Grayson (8-0, 3-0) for a showdown next week against Newton to determine the Region 4 championship. Brookwood (6-2, 0-2) has lost two straight and visits rival South Gwinnett next week.

“The first half was kind of slow,” Mafah said. “So we talked about how we needed to keep it going and pick it up. That’s my job, to uplift everybody else.”

Those quarterbacks did their part, too. Cannon started and completed 7 of 10 passes for 120 yards and one touchdown. Garcia completed 9 of 13 for 237 yards and three touchdowns.

“With those two we’ve got a chance to win a lot of games,” Carter said.

The unsung Grayson defense did its part, too, by laying some vicious licks and forcing the Broncos to put the ball on the ground. Grayson forced five fumbles and recovered four.

“We made some plays,” Carter said. “Look at our tackles for loss and turnovers and that’s what sets us apart.”

It started on the opening kickoff when Brookwood’s Marquis Groves-Killebrew fumbled after a violent hit from Jayvian Allen. Grayson’s Michael Daugherty recovered and took it to the 2. Mafah scored on the next play.

“He’ll strike you,” Carter said about Allen. “He plays hard and he’ll hit you.”

The Rams did it again on the next possession when Alexander Diggs was stripped while struggling for extra yards and Joshua Silva recovered.

Only this time the Broncos turned the tables. With Mafah in Wildcat formation, the ball was snapped over his head and Brookwood’s Niles Prince picked it up and raced 90 yards for a touchdown.

Grayson answered on its second play after the kickoff. Cannon flipped a screen to Mafah, who ran 82 yards for a touchdown.

Brookwood fumbled the kickoff, but recovered, and drove for a tying score. Jack Spyke, playing in place of the injured Dylan Lonergan, threw a 21-yard strike to Denylon Morrissette for the score.

Spyke completed 10 of 20 passes for 81 yards and one touchdown. Morrissette had three catches for 48 yards and one touchdown.

Grayson took the lead for good late in the first quarter on Mafah’s 6-yard run and converted another Brookwood fumble - this one also recovered by Daugherty - and scored on the next play when Garcia threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Jaden Smith.

Brookwood added a 27-yard field goal from Dan Le-Hernandez and Grayson got another 10-yard from Mafah and took a 35-17 lead into halftime.

Grayson drove for a 29-yard field goal from Jimmy Gonzalez and the Rams forced another fumble that Jibrahn Claude recovered. Garcia threw a 28-yard touchdown to Jamal Haynes on the next play.

Grayson has won its three region games by a combined 147-31.