GARDENDALE — It was a long time coming — 22 years, to be exact.
The last time that Gardendale had beaten Mountain Brook, or any of the over-the-mountain powerhouse teams for that matter, was 1991.
That losing streak ended Thursday night, as the Rockets came from behind to defeat the 10th-ranked Spartans 14-9.
The Rockets overcame an old-fashioned, run-it-up-the-gut offensive effort by Mountain Brook in the first half. Running back Will Bromberg was a jewel for the visitors, as he rushed 30 times for 151 yards to account for all but 14 of his team’s total on the ground. Most of his yardage came as he pounded right into the heart of the Rockets’ defensive line.
But even so, the Spartans had a difficult time putting points on the scoreboard. A marathon drive that began on their own 26 bogged down 16 plays later, when the Rockets held on third down and seven at the 9-yard line to force a 26-yard field goal by Tre Fletcher with 9:30 left in the first half.
Mountain Brook then capitalized on Gardendale’s only turnover of the night, on the closest thing to a trick play that coach Matt Plunkett pulled out of his playbook. Running back/safety Juan Jackson lined up at quarterback, but threw in the wrong direction and right into the hands of Buddy Pell for an interception.
“He got confused and ran the wrong play. I take blame for that — I should’ve called a time out right there and fixed it,” Plunkett said.
Bromberg ran five straight gains for 44 yards, with Pell smashing through the line for one yard and the touchdown. Smith’s extra point kick was no good, though, giving the Spartans a 9-0 lead going into halftime.
Things turned around for the home team after intermission, and Jackson made amends for his errant pass. There weren’t any big adjustments made by Plunkett and his staff, not even any paint-peeling tirades in the locker room.