With the sting of a lopsided loss to IMG Academy six days earlier still fresh in their minds, the Booker T. Washington Tornadoes got right back on track Thursday night.
Hosting a Jacksonville Trinity Christian team that has four state titles in the past six years and ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 3A, Booker T. overcame an early first-quarter deficit to record a quality 20-7 win at Traz Powell Stadium.
“This one was important tonight because we were kind of on a roll before we got beat up pretty good by IMG last week so we wanted to come out and get things back on track again,” BTW associate head coach Ben Hanks said of the 52-14 loss to IMG. “We did a good job of making the big plays when we had to to come out on top.”
No player was bigger than wide receiver Jacorey Brooks who came up huge all night long. Brooks finished with seven receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns — both in the second half — that broke the Tornadoes loose from a 7-7 halftime tie.
Brooks caught a 5-yard scoring toss from quarterback Torrey Morrison midway through the fourth quarter when Hanks rolled the dice on a fourth-and-goal situation to put the Tornadoes (5-2) up for good at 13-7.
But it was his second score that could make the ESPN highlights show.
That came with 9:45 left in the game when Morrison, who also enjoyed a huge night (21-of-28 passing for 285 yards) dropped back and heaved a long one to the corner of the end zone that appeared to be overthrown.
But Brooks reached up with his left hand and brought the ball in one-handed and got one foot down in the corner of the end zone for a 33-yard score.
“Just out there trying to make a play,” Brooks said. “I saw the ball coming in, and knew I would have to go up high for it and managed to bring it in. Maybe I’ll make ESPN. More importantly, this was a big win for us tonight. Last week wasn’t fun against IMG, and we had to get things right again and keep this train rolling and that’s what we did tonight.”
It also was a somber and heartfelt night for all of the Booker T. Washington players, coaches, fans and administrators as a special tribute was held at halftime to recognize Cristian Burgos, the young man who lost his life on Wednesday after an act of true heroism on Monday when he jumped in to save a person from drowning only to lose his own life.
“We really didn’t know him personally but that doesn’t matter,” Brooks said. “What he did was truly amazing and he’s a real Tornado, a real hero in our eyes. We wanted to come out here and play hard for him and his family tonight and pay tribute to his memory. Hopefully, we did that.”
Trinity Christian jumped out in front first on its first possession when quarterback Fred Davis, on a keeper, broke a tackle in the backfield and slithered through a hole in the middle and bolted for a 35-yard touchdown.
The drive should’ve been a three-and-out. But BTW’s Nathaniel Harris was called for roughing punter Clayton Roerig, which kept the drive alive.
After struggling with three consecutive three-and-outs to start the game, the Tornadoes offense finally got on track midway through the second quarter when it went 62 yards in just three plays.
Two of those plays belonged to running back Shemar Paul, who went 25 yards on the first play and then 43 on the third all the way to the end zone to make it 7-7.