Charles Brooks can’t be stopped in Bell’s last-second win over Eastern
By Mark Giannotto October 16
Considering Bell’s Charles Brooks and Eastern’s Jarome Johnson traded highlights all night long, it only seemed right that the one with the ball last would strike the decisive blow. Except Brooks, the area’s leading rusher entering Friday, ended this thrilling rematch of last year’s Gravy Bowl in a way few would have expected.
The diminutive senior gave Bell a dramatic 28-26 win over Eastern with his arm, finding wide receiver Dewonn Brown on a fade route for a 12-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game, which took place at Cardozo.
The last-second heroics capped off another spectacular evening for Brooks, who rushed for 196 yards, accounted for every Bell touchdown and threw for another 180 yards as a quarterback, including a 65-yard pass to sophomore Teyonte McKenzie that kick-started the game-winning drive.
“I just threw the ball up to my man. I knew he was going to get it,” Brooks said through tears after an on-field celebration. “They think they’re going to stop me, but ain’t no way you’re going to stop me.”
Eastern could hardly believe the turn of events after mounting a second-half comeback, which featured a red-zone defensive stand on Bell’s previous possession. The Ramblers took a 26-22 lead with 3 minutes 29 seconds remaining once Johnson, the team’s senior quarterback, scrambled for a 10-yard touchdown run.
Johnson seemed up to the task of matching Brooks, using his legs to gash Bell’s defense while Eastern’s prolific passing attack struggled to connect consistently. He finished with 250 total yards and four touchdowns, helping the Ramblers climb out of a 22-12 deficit in the third quarter.
But Brooks just kept responding, beginning with the seconds immediately after Eastern put Bell (5-1, 3-0 DCIAA Stripes) in an early 12-0 hole.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Brooks threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to senior Damon Quigley. Then, held to just 36 yards on his first 12 carries of the game, he exploded on his next one for a 90-yard touchdown run with 27 seconds left before halftime.
Brooks turned the corner off a direct snap, stutter stepped through two tacklers, stiff-armed another defender and juked past two more before sprinting down the sideline. Suddenly, Bell had a 14-12 lead on Eastern (4-4, 3-1) and its hero was only getting started.
“He comes off with that energy and it just rubs off on everyone else,” Brown said. “He’s that heart and soul. [We’re] just a body and he’s the heart and we’re the rest of the pieces.”