Early deficit no problem for Brooks
KILLEN — First-year Brooks coach Brad Black found out his team can take a punch.
Trailing 21-6 and on the ropes after the first quarter, Brooks (11-1) reeled off 44 unanswered points and held North Jackson to just two first downs over the next 36 minutes to secure its spot in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state playoffs with a 50-21 win Friday night.
“We knew we had to do something,” Black said. “Our kids knew that. We were making mistakes. We had a tipped ball get intercepted, but our kids didn’t get rattled and they knew what needed to be fixed.”
Quarterback Tyce Thomas, who was a game-time decision due to a stomach virus, tossed four touchdown passes and ran for another and the Lions took advantage of four North Jackson turnovers to pull away.
“I was sitting at the hospital with Tyce at 10:30 last night,” Black said. “He looked at me before the game and told me he wanted to play. I told him that we had come this far with him and we were going to stick with him. That’s what we did and he played a great game.”
North Jackson (7-5) took the opening drive and marched 62 yards for the game’s first score. Running back Omar Brown broke free for a 37-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the game.
Brooks answered when Thomas connected with wide receiver Lazarius Decatur for a 52-yard score.
Quarterback Thadius Harris responded with touchdown passes of 69 and 7 yards to Daniel Darwell as North Jackson pulled ahead 21-6 after the first quarter.
North Jackson never threatened again.
Thomas hooked up with Kolton Medley on a 28-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter to start the comeback.
Joe Gurley was good on a 27-yard field goal and freshman running back Noah Turbyfill, who took over when leading-rusher Deondre Hampton went down with a hip injury, scored from 4 yards to give Brooks its first lead at 22-21 just before halftime.
“Turbyfill is a special kid,” Black said. “He’s a hard-working kid with a lot of ability. Tonight we challenged him and told him that he was going to have to step up and he did that. I’m proud of him.”
Brooks picked up right where it left off on its first drive of the third quarter when Thomas scored on a 20-yard read-option keeper to push the lead to 8.
A 16-yard touchdown pass to Decatur and a 12-yard strike to Turbyfill made it 43-21. Turbyfill tacked on his third touchdown with 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter to close it.
“North Jackson has a really good team,” senior linebacker Jake Whitehead said. “They really came out and put it on us early, but we came together as a team and got things going when it mattered.”
Brooks will travel to Fayette County (8-4) next week. The Tigers reach the quarterfinals with a 40-23 win over Cleburne County.