Our Game of the Week story is brought to you by Vanderbilt Orthopaedics.
STORY BY JAKE DONOVAN | PHOTOS BY DEB SCALLY PHOTOGRAPHY
The regular season Battle of the Woods once again goes to Brentwood.
Thomas Day’s long leg kept the hosting Bruins in the game long enough for senior quarterback Cade Granzow to spark a second half outburst en route to a 25-14 win over the Ravenwood Raptors in their annual crosstown rivalry game Friday evening at James C. Parker Stadium at Brentwood High School.
Granzow went for 272 yards in the air of 24/36 passing, throwing for one touchdown and running in another in engineering a near perfect ball game from the Bruins.
Day booted four field goals on the night, including a 44-yarder at the end of the first half to further enhance an already hyped up crowd on rivalry night.
“Our special teams really kept us in the game tonight,” Brentwood head coach Ron Crawford told Home Page of the pivotal Region 6A matchup. “(Senior punter and kickoff specialist) Tabor Miller put every last kickoff in the end zone—Ravenwood had zero return yards tonight on kickoffs and punts. Then, Thomas Day goes 4/4, hitting every field goal, which was huge because we knew points would be at a premium.”
Both teams were efficient on offense, just unable to convert key plays into points. Ravenwood entered on the heels of a 61-point explosion versus Arkansas private school powerhouse Pulaski Academy one week ago, but were held scoreless in the first quarter of play, including a three-and-out on the opening drive.
Still, with the weapons they boast along with Brentwood settling for three points at a time following lengthy drives, it would only take one or two big plays for the Raptors to turn the tide.
It finally came midway through the second quarter, a 55-yard drive enabled by the arm of senior quarterback Brian Garcia (11/19, 120 yards, 1 TD), including a 17-yard completion to Ross Johnston on 4th and 6 to set up their first score of the night.
Senior running back Tony Rice (15 carries, 41 yards, 1 TD) finished the hob, punching it in from 3 yards out to give Ravenwood a 7-3 lead with 5:02 to play.
The rest of the half would see Day turn in a heck of a night.
The senior kicker brought Brentwood within one following a 36-yard field goal with less than two minutes to go in the half.
A key stop by the Bruins defense gave them the ball back with 0:42 left, just enough time to head into the locker room with a 9-7 lead. It came courtesy of a booming 44-yard field goal by Day just as time expired to end the half.
“I just had a lot of energy,” Day told Home Page. “I felt like I just needed to do something big to keep this great football program in the game, on a night like this.”
Still, for all of Brentwood’s offensive success, the Raptors still felt good at halftime—and even better after scoring on its first drive of the second half. Following a huge defensive stop, Ravenwood reclaimed the lead after Garcia completed a three-play, 0:52 second drive with a 46-yard strike to a wide open Ross Johnston for a 14-9 lead.
“I can’t lie, we were pretty confident after the first half and especially after Brian and Ross hooked up on that terrific play,” Ravenwood head coach Matt Daniels told Home Page.
“Both teams were playing tremendously well, but we were doing a great job of keeping Brentwood out of the end zone. For us to shake off fatigue and put seven more points on the board when they couldn’t, it felt like a big momentum shift.”
Unfortunately, it became a last hurrah.
Day’s fourth and final field goal of the evening brought Brentwood within two before the offense finally finished what they started.
The first Bruins touchdown of the night came courtesy of a lengthy drive kept alive by a bizarre sequence that saw four straight penalties in a span of 0:12 of game clock. Brentwood was faced with 4th and inches at midfield, only to get called for off-sides which forced them to punt.
The drive was kept alive, however, following a roughing the kicker penalty, which wasn’t nearly as crucial as the Raptors getting called for defensive off-sides on the very next play.
“We fielded a tired football team tonight and still were in a great position to win,” noted Daniels. “But penalties just did us in. In a game like this, against a team like that, it’s going to catch up to you.”
Granzow eventually made them pay, throwing for 65 yards on the drive which was capped by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Austin Spradlin. The hulking senior plowed over two Raptors in fighting his way the final five yards to the end zone.
“There was somebody there?,” Spradlin jokingly asked. “In all seriousness, there could’ve been all 11 defenders in front of me. This is the last Battle of the Woods regular season game I’ll ever play. Nothing was going to stop me from scoring on that play.”
The drive was a massive momentum boost for the Bruins, who failed to convert on a two-point conversion but still enjoyed an 18-14 lead which they would never relinquish.
“The offensive staff, we figured we found a couple of things we could do,” noted Crawford of what was more effective in the second half.
“We couldn’t block them or run it at them, they are extremely talented. So we had to dink and duck it out. We stuck it out long enough to where some runs opened up for us. We threw the ball well, we caught the bell well. We were able to knock out some first downs by dinking and dunking.”
It was enough to hand the Raptors their first loss of the season, as their inability to reclaim momentum proved too much to overcome on a night where neither team committed a single turnover.
Brentwood added an insurance touchdown late in the 4th quarter, a lengthy drive capped by Granzow punching it in on a 4-yard quarterback keeper.
“It felt good to get points in the second half,” stated Granzow, a two-sport standout who will play baseball at Auburn University after he graduates.
“We did really well all game, just the difference was we were ineffective in the red zone in the first half. It was a different story later on and we made it count when it mattered the most.”
Both teams move to 4-1, with Brentwood—who plays Christ Presbyterian Academy next week—claiming the regular season rivalry game for the second straight year. The same game in 2018 saw Ravenwood endure its first loss, only to hand it to the Bruins in eliminating them from postseason play.
Of course, last season is just a memory, as will eventually become of Friday’s game as Ravenwood heads into a bye week.
“We can use the rest, but can also use this break to just tighten up crucial areas, like minimizing penalties,” notes Daniels, whose Raptors squad returns Oct. 4 in a Region 6A matchup versus Dickson County.
“These are two great football teams. This game is a rivalry but it’s all in good spirits. We’re running high on emotion for four quarters and then we’re hugging and congratulating one another afterward.
“Now it’s on to the next one—for us that’s in two weeks. With any luck, maybe we’ll see these guys again later this year.”
The other side of the rivalry doesn’t at all discount that notion.
“We earned the right to celebrate this win, but can’t make too much more of it beyond what took place (Friday),” admits Crawford. “We’re the same team that just lost a week ago, so nobody was really giving us a chance. So, I’m not sure what to make of it.
“I don’t think this game defines us. Nor do I think it defines Ravenwood.”
In the end, though, it defined the spirit of a long-standing rivalry never short on memorable moments.