ALBANY -- Albany's 23-10 loss to Brooks County on Thursday night could pretty much be summed up in one play.
Down 17-10 with 4:38 left in the game, the Indians forced the Trojans into a fourth down on Brooks' own 35-yard line. A good punt return would mean the Indians would get a chance to tie or win the game, or even better, drastically increase their playoff chances. However ...
After Brooks punted the ball, senior tight end/defensive end Jibri Jimmerson clobbered the punter well after the ball was in the air, resulting in a roughing-the-kicker penalty and a first down for the Trojans, who would go on to score the final touchdown of the game as Albany fell to 2-6 overall and 1-3 Region 1-AA at Hugh Mills Stadium.
The loss also likely ended the Indians' playoff hopes as they needed a win Thursday just to stay in the race for the fourth and final spot.
"(The reason we lost was poor) execution and just a lack of not being disciplined and doing what we're supposed to do," an irritated Albany head coach Felton Williams said. "This game (Thursday night) was lost, not because of turnovers, but mental mistakes and a lack of playing disciplined football. This is a game we should have won, no excuses."
Jimmerson's penalty was not the only blemish of the night, however, as Albany had 11 of the game's 28 flags and hurt itself on multiple opportunities.
"(The penalties) did (not help)," Williams said. "We had a punt and then we run into the kicker. There's no excuse for that."
The Indians did start off the game on a good note, however, as kicker Daniel Castenada scored the first points of the night on a 41-yard field goal after missing a 42-yarder just four minutes earlier.
It was a short-lived lead, though, as Brooks quarterback Malcom Parrish scored the first of his three touchdowns on a 15-yard run with a little more than two minutes left in the first frame.
Parrish, a freshman, struck again with 5:58 left in the second on a 3-yard rush, which was set up by a personal foul and a couple offsides penalties by Albany.
"I thought we were (going to be able to contain Parrish)," Williams said. "Obviously, he was able to get loose. He's very elusive, he's a great athlete, but you gotta tackle him and hit him every play. Some plays we did, but others we didn't and we paid for it."
And with just 21.6 seconds left in the half, Trojans kicker William Harp got in field goal range -- thanks to another offsides penalty by Albany -- and sent it through the middle of the uprights from 31 yards out to give Brooks a 17-3 lead at halftime.
Albany QB Emmanul Byrd then cut the lead to 17-10 with 3:34 left in the third on a 1-yard quarterback sneak in a quarter that lasted almost an hour thanks to a barrage of penalties on both teams.
Jimmerson made his crucial mistake in the final frame, and Parrish -- who finished with 15 carries for 99 yards -- capitalized on it with a 3-yard TD run with 2:35 left to ice it.
Running back Tyuis Smith finished with 88 yards on the ground for Albany, which will have to win its final two games -- against Early County (2-5, 1-2) next week and Cook County (7-0, 3-0) the week after -- if it wants to have an outside shot at the postseason.
"A loss like this (just means we have to) try to keep them focused," Williams said. "The last two games, you know, anything is possible. It's a David vs. Goliath situation for the next two weeks. (We) have a good chance (to win next week), but we have to win out (to get into the playoffs).
"We're going to keep working and hopefully get over these mental mistakes."