BY CORY WOODROOF/PHOTOS BY ANDY COLLIGNON
Nothing could rain on the Brentwood Bruins’ parade after their dramatic 17-14 home district victory Friday night over their rival Franklin Rebels.
Not even a downpour of actual rain.
A late pick from junior safety Davis Witt timed itself right when the front coming in from the Spring Hill area began to unleash its worst on everyone at James C. Parker Stadium.
Right as the fans rushed the field and Bruins celebrated the win over their down-the-road rival, the lights went out.
It’s not lost on Brentwood sophomore quarterback Cade Granzow how cinematic his first win as the main Bruins quarterback was.
“It’s awesome – I mean, the lights going out, and the rain at the end, I mean, it was great,” Granzow said. “It was an awesome experience, and I’m just so happy that we won.”
Bruins fans storm the field as Brentwood takes this one 17-14. The lights just went out, just as Cade Granzow was lights out when it counted. A statement win for the sophomore, and for Brentwood’s young defense. pic.twitter.com/97le809W4q
— WillCo Football (@WillCoFootball) August 18, 2018
The first half saw Brentwood start out with arguably the play of the game. Senior Bruin Michael Burke blocked a Rebels kick early to give the Bruins the ball deep in enemy territory. Senior quarterback Dylan Stevens got the first offensive snaps for Brentwood and senior running back Jordan Nichols cashed it in to give the Bruins an early 7-0 lead.
The Bruins made a planned QB swap for the young gunslinger Granzow after Stevens went three-and-out on the second Bruins offensive drive. But, Granzow’s early second-half pick to Rebels senior defensive back Cooper Palk set up Franklin nicely for a bit of heroics from Franklin junior QB Josh Nichols.
The Rebels’ signal caller already courted a bit of long odds in their preseason jamboree by converting a fourth and 26 to WR Chancellor Bright in Murfreesboro, and he sparked that up once more by hitting Bright in the end zone on a fourth-down attempt to even things out at 7-7 at the top of the second quarter, a score that would hold to half.
At the start of the second, the Bruins and Rebels continued their stare down until Granzow threw another pick, this time to senior DB Chapman Beird with 8:55 to go in the third quarter. The Bruins responded with a stop, but Franklin’s special teams got back their error from earlier with a muffed punt recovery from Palk, his second game-changing moment of the night. Palk’s heads-up play put the Rebels deep in Bruin territory, with Nichols quick to find senior halfback Khani Kelton for the touchdown. The Rebels went up 14-7, with about half a third quarter to go.
But, Granzow kept battling, using his legs and relying on offensive weapons like Nicholas, Bishop, senior WR/RB Carter McKechnie. After a nice drive down to Franklin field, Nicholas cashed it in to even out the game, 14-14 with 3:47 left in the third.
A few missed drives for both offenses and key stops for both defenses brought this one down to the wire, but a Granzow drive down to Franklin territory gave the Bruins just enough room to see kicker Tabor Miller nail three points, giving them a 17-14 lead.
Nichols and Franklin tried to get a quick drive down the field to take the game, but the Brentwood defense would have none of it. Right as a patch of rain began to cascade down on all players, coaches and onlookers, Witt nabbed the closing pick, and Granzow kneeled the Bruins to their first win of the season, and his first as a leading quarterback.
“He really had some growth tonight, didn’t he,” Bruins head coach Ron Crawford said of his young QB.
“We knew he had an incredible ceiling,” Crawford said. “I think tonight went a long way in getting him more confident in what we’re doing, more command of it. He’s still got to learn and grow with it, but you can see he’s got a live arm, [and a better] understanding of our offense.”
He also credits Granzow’s his dual-threat ability as a runner as a key to the sophomore’s success.
Granzow credits his receivers and their speed for the Bruins’ ability to move the ball against Franklin, and his short-term memory in shaking off the two picks.
He also mentioned a piece of wisdom his coach gave him that helped him when it was crunch time.
“My coach said, ‘calm in the storm’,” Granzow said. “And, I just kept calm.”
Storm, rain, however you slice it, this one feels like it was shot on a backlot, not played out off of Granny White Pike. It’s a Hollywood ending for Granzow and the Bruins early in the season.
Granzow finished the game for Brentwood going 17/24 and 121 yards. He had two picks on the night. Nicholas had 93 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns, compared to McKechnie’s 20 yards on six carries. Bishop had six catches for 37 yards, while wideout Walker Merrill had two catches for 32 yards, including a pivotal snag that put Brentwood in business for their second touchdown.
For Franklin, Nichols posted up 121 yards in the air, and threw for two touchdowns. He also had an interception. Senior RB Matt Gaca put 60 yards on the ground, and Bright had 31 yards and a touchdown on five catches.
In the stalemate of a matchup, Crawford says it came down to Brentwood being a bit healthier than the Rebels by game’s end, and in them getting their bearings straight, for them to pull out the win.
“The things [Franklin] took away from us, it took us a while to try to manage and find the things that we needed to execute, so we had to peck and hunt and find it a little bit, too,” Crawford said. “It was classic Franklin/Brentwood.”
Franklin head coach Donnie Webb was proud of the way his guys played, even if the result was not reflective of their effort.
“Right now, I’m just feeling for these kids,” Webb said. “They played their butts off. I’m just proud of them. I’m so proud of them, and we’re going to be just fine. We’ve just got to go back to work.”
Brentwood (1-0) will look to take the momentum from this district win and put it into next Friday’s home tilt against Cane Ridge, while Franklin (0-1) will hope to rebound next week at Riverdale.
Slideshow with photos from Andy Collignon