Archer holds off late Brookwood rally to win 25-17

Seth Ellerbee

Archer scored two touchdowns in the first half and weathered a late-game push by Brookwood to win 25-17 on Saturday in the Corky Kell Classic at Georgia State Stadium in Atlanta. The game could have been a blowout as Archer held a 25-7 lead entering the fourth quarter, but the offense stalled, allowing the Broncos back into the game.

“I think that the closing minutes were a result of not scoring in the red zone,” Archer coach Andy Dyer said. “We didn’t score touchdowns, we kicked fields goals, we missed a field goal, the defense gave us our pick, we got a fumble down there. We had opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them. But when you have athletes like Brookwood has, you are going to have a ball game in the final quarter.”

Archer opened the game with a safety at 4:39 in the first quarter after a high Brookwood snap sent the ball into the end zone. The Tigers then added a 30-yard field goal from Michael Johnson to take a 5-0 lead just two minutes later. After forcing and recovering a fumble, Archer took full advantage as quarterback Carter Peevy found Braylen Weems on a 16-yard touchdown pass.

“I just caught it, and when I did, I turned inside,” Weems said. “I saw the safety coming and then ducked, and when I did, the defender ran into his guy and I took it to the house. But [the win] means a lot. We are underestimated and no one is really talking about us. So it’s great to come here on this big stage and get a big win.”

Peevy, who finished 14-of-22 passing for 116 yards and one touchdown, was impressed with the Brookwood offensive line, but he knew his side had the ability to match up with them.

“They have some good kids,” Peevy said. “They were really talented up front but our line did a great job pushing them back and staying with it. We talked about all week, perseverance. It is going to be a heavyweight fight and we did a good job of sticking with it.”

With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Brookwood answered on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Angelo DiSpigna to Dante Black to make it a 12-7 game, but Archer would answer just a few minutes later. With 3:25 left in the half, Archer’s Semaje Banks found a crease and rushed 49 yards before being brought down just short of the goal line. Banks scored on a 2-yard rush on the next play, pushing the lead to 19-7. Two more Johnson field goals of 30 and 25 yards pushed the lead to 25-7 entering the final quarter.

Brookwood, however, would threaten. It started with a tipped ball and 100-yard interception return by Kendall Williamson, making the score 25-14. A Jake Cartmill field goal then pulled the game to its final tally, 25-17.

Dyer was impressed with his squad, but he knows that the mistakes his team made in this game could be costly in others.

“The biggest thing is that it is validation for our kids that have been working so hard since we finished the season last year,” Dyer said. “We made a thousand mistakes that we have to go correct, but it is a lot more fun to correct them after a win than after a loss.”

The win was special for Dyer, who expressed his thoughts on making sure his kids have memorable experiences throughout the season. And with a venue and event like the Corky Kell, he could not say enough.

“it was awesome,” Dyer said. “I think as coaches, all of these coaches, Norcross, Mill Creek and Brookwood and all the guys that worked so hard to get their kids in these games, I think that is what it is all about, giving these kids opportunities to do cool stuff. We only get them for a short time. I told my coaches that we only have these kids for five months, so let’s make it the best five months of their lives.”

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