Brentwood kicker Tabor Miller (95) is congratulated by a teammate after converting on a field goal attempt in the first half against Nolensville. / RUSSELL VANNOZZI
STORY AND PHOTOS BY RUSSELL VANNOZZI
It wasn’t pretty, but the Brentwood Bruins continued their winning ways against Nolensville on Friday.
Brentwood led by as many as 21 points before a late rally from the Knights made things interesting. However, the Bruins emerged with a rain-soaked, 27-19 victory to improve to 5-1 on the season.
“It’s my job to make sure we come in here and play as well as we’re capable of [playing],” Brentwood coach Ron Crawford said. “I’m not disappointed that we won, but I’m disappointed because I think I can do a better job.”
The Knights have closed the gap after losing to Brentwood by a score of 49-7 last season. But Nolenville coach Paul Derrick wasn’t interested in settling for moral victories.
“I feel like we matched up better with [Brentwood] this year than we did last year,” Derrick said. “We came in here to win the football game, but we just didn’t make enough plays to do it.”
The game was full of missed opportunities on both sides. Nolensville came away with just six points despite three red zones trips in the first half, and Brentwood failed to capitalize when it had a chance to pull away in the second half.
In the first quarter, Brentwood (5-1) quarterback Cade Granzow found Carter McKechnie on a 65-yard scoring strike. Nolensville kicked a pair of field goals before Granzow’s screen pass to Jordan Nicholas went 51 yards for another Brentwood touchdown.
Bruin kicker Tabor Miller nailed a 37-yard field goal to give Brentwood a 17-6 halftime lead.
Nolensville QB Brandon Wharton II played most of the first half, but he was relieved by backup Ryder Galardi after halftime. Wharton has been nursing a nagging injury in recent weeks.
“He’s still recovering from injuries, so we’re trying to be careful with him,” Derrick said of Wharton. “We’re monitoring his volume of [of snaps].”
Miller tacked on another field goal in the third quarter, and Nicholas ran for a 22-yard touchdown to extend Brentwood’s lead to 27-6. But Nicholas was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting on the play, and from there, Nolensville fought its way back.
“We knew [Nolensville] was good and well-coached,” Crawford said. “Apparently, we weren’t able to get that message across. We had a chance [to finish] up 21, but we couldn’t because we made too many mistakes.”
Galardi found tight end Tim Stayskal for a 50-yard touchdown strike, and Colton Dooley later ran for a 10-yard score to cut Brentwood’s lead to 27-19 with nine minutes remaining in the game.
“He did a good job when he got in the game,” Derrick said of Galardi. “He’s done a good job for us, given our current situation. But he’s only a sophomore, and he makes some mistakes because of his inexperience.”
But the Brentwood defense did its job, and a bad snap on a Nolensville punt sealed a loss for the Knights.
“Our defense did some good things,” Crawford said. “We’ve got to quit saying we have a young defense – we’ve played six games now.”
Granzow finished the contest with 314 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-20 passing. McKenzie had four receptions for 115 yards, while Nicholas led the rushing attack with 72 yards on 11 carries.
Brentwood hosts Independence (2-3) next week, while Nolensville travels to Tullahoma (5-1).