THOMASVILLE — For the first time this season, there were emphatic shouts and exclamations as the Brookwood football team gathered for its postgame huddle.

The Warriors, down at halftime, rallied to beat visiting Edmund Burke Academy 36-26 at Warrior Stadium, earning their first win of the 2021 season. 

“I’ve never been through anything like this,” Warriors head coach Shane Boggs said after his team snapped a five-game skid. “It’s been really tough. But our kids have never wavered in terms of their belief and in their work ethic. It’s a little more special than a lot of these opening wins we’ve had.”

T.J. Thomas returned a pooch kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, and Rodge Waldrop’s two-point conversion pass to Grant Gaston put the Warriors ahead 29-26 with 8:16 to play in the game.

Charles Knox recovered the ensuing onside kick, the third such recovery of the game for the Warriors. That set up Waldrop’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Destin Moore with 5:32 remaining to give the Warriors some cushion.

Brookwood raced out of the gates to a 14-0 lead. Against Edmund Burke’s ball-control Flexbone attack, the Warriors seemed to have the right plan by getting in front early.

Moore took Waldrop’s hitch pass on Brookwood’s second play from scrimmage and raced 42 yards down the Warriors sideline for a score. 

After Tyler Cleveland came up with the onside kick, Waldrop and Moore hooked up for an 8-yard score, giving the Warriors a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. 

Going to the onside kick was by design, in order to try to limit the Spartans’ number of possessions. 

“Oscar Thompson, our kicker, Coach (Eddie) Foy, our kicking coach, and Coach (Louis) Schofill, our kickoff coach have worked really hard,” Boggs said. “They have a diverse way of doing those onside kicks. We recovered those three different ways tonight. The one by Charles Knox at the end was huge.”

The Spartans, though, wasted little time in mounting a comeback. Quarterback Evan Hirschauer capped a nine-play, 66-yard drive with a 1-yard sneak. 

On Brookwood’s next play from scrimmage, Hirschauer stepped in front of Waldrop’s pass for Turner Vick and raced 44 yards for a tying interception touchdown return. 

The Spartans opened the second quarter with a 14-play, 79-yard drive, commencing in Parker Oliver’s 15-yard touchdown run.

Waldrop and Moore connected on a 31-yard touchdown on Brookwood’s first possession of the second half, with Moore carefully stepping just inside the pylon to complete the score. 

An eight-minute Spartans drive ended at the Warriors 13-yard line, but Hirschauer’s 1-yard plunge ended a 10-play 39-yard drive to put Edmund Burke in front 26-21 with 8:31left to play in the game.

That’s when Thomas turned in his startling return to give Brookwood the lead for good.

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