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The Brentwood High School Bruins prevailed in a defensive slugfest to defeat their rival Franklin, 7-0, at home Friday night.

Brentwood (6-2, 3-1 in region play) scored the lone touchdown of the game on a 43-yard wheel route from quarterback Grant Nelson to wide receiver Clayton Merrill with 1:43 left to play in the first half.

Head coach Clint Finch praised his quarterback-wide receiver combo for their execution, given that the two did not practice together much during the week as Nelson was out with an illness.

“For them to get the correct timing on that particular football play, with not a lot of reps of it this week, it may have been the fourth time we ran it all week, it was really impressive,” Finch said.

Nelson finished the game 19-22 for 93 yards, an interception and the touchdown to Merrill, who had seven catches for 63 yards and the touchdown on the evening.

The Bruins’ only other real scoring chance came in the first quarter, when Isaac Hayes missed a 47-yard field goal. Punter, Luke Armistead flipped the field twice with punts inside the 20-yard line.

Finch praised the way, despite the record, the Admirals (0-8) fought on Friday night.

“First of all, you have got to tip your hat to Franklin,” Finch said. “Those kids are 0-8 and Alex Melton has them playing like their record is much better than that. I’ve got a ton of respect for Alex and those kids. A lot of kids would have wanted to lay down in a game like this, and Franklin didn’t. I was super impressed with the way they handled tonight.”

Both teams ran the ball extensively Friday night. Brentwood ran the ball 31 times and gained 184 yards. Franklin ran it 34 times, gaining 112 yards.

However, neither team could really do much offensively once the ball crossed the midfield stripe. Time of possession proved to be almost even with Franklin getting the edge 24:26 to 23:34.

A fumble by Brentwood running back Homzi Nasser with 3:43 left to play in the second quarter amounted to nothing for the Admirals, and they were forced to punt with 2:15 left to play in the half, which led to the Bruins’ lone touchdown.

Turnovers and penalties stalled the offense and forced the Bruins to rely on the defense throughout the game.

“At the end of the day, our defense held them out of the end zone,” Finch said. 'I don’t think it was necessarily our defense’s best night. We struggled in some aspects, but when you shut a team out you can’t ask the defense to do much more than that.

“We did a good job moving the football. We just would had a penalty at a key time, turned it over at a key time, just broke down in protection at a key time. We did a lot of good stuff, but we only had seven points to show for it. We are just fortunate seven points was enough tonight to win the ballgame.”

Max Orefice led the squad with eight tackles, but the unit didn’t record a sack or turnover in the ballgame.

The Admirals made a push in the third quarter to the Brentwood red zone but failed on a fourth down with 7:51 left to play in the third quarter. Franklin got another great opportunity in the fourth quarter when Sean Gaca intercepted a Nelson pass around the FHS 30-yard line, but Franklin committed a personal foul, which led to poor field position and an eventual punt with 3:29 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Brentwood found a way to run the ball and bleed the rest of the clock, thanks to key runs by running backs, Nasser, Trey Dorris and Briggs Beck.

Nasser led the way with 15 rushes for 86 yards, Dorris had eight for 63 yards and Beck and four rushes for 24 yards, including a key first down on the final drive.

After a bye week, the Bruins will travel to Beech High School before it hosts Centennial High School on Oct. 28. Franklin will face 5A powerhouse Nolensville before the trip to Summit High School, where both teams will be hungry for a win.

He said he plans to have the team practice Monday and Tuesday of next week during fall break. Then, give them the rest of the week off and have a normal week of prep for Beech next week.

“We’ve got to work on some fundamental stuff and some things we need to clean up,” he said. Then, we will have a regular week of prep for Beech High School, who play a really physical brand of football, and we expect that to be a really good game in Long Hollow.”