In a night that found itself defined by a late-game success yet again, the No. 10 Brentwood Bruins (8-3) prevailed in their first-round matchup of the TSSAA state playoffs against No. 15 Collierville 17-7.
The game stayed inside the Bruins 35-yard line seemingly the entire first half, as Brentwood came away with only one first down to show for in the entire first 24 minutes of football. Collierville (8-3), led by Quarterback Aidan Glover, was able to come away with a touchdown in the 2nd quarter with only :46 seconds left in the half.
The Bruins, however, were not worried. All year the Bruins have been playing their best football in the latter half of the game. After having only one first down in the entire first half, it only took the Bruins two minutes and 48 seconds to earn three first downs and tie the game up at 7-7.
Defense and rushing were the catalysts in this game. Shortly after giving up the ball on kickoff, the Bruins forced a Glover fumble in the 3rd quarter that put Brentwood on the opposing 33 yard line. From there it was the rush attack from Homzi Nassar and Trey Dorris who put the on the seven-yard line, and from there allowed Grant Nelson to find Clayton Merrill for the touchdown, 14-7.
After a field goal from Isaac Hayes put this one out of reach for Collierville at 17-7, the momentum set in and the knees went down for a Brentwood Bruin victory.
As the team huddled up after the handshakes at midfield, head coach Clint Finch led off his statement clearly to the team, students, parents and all surrounded; “We said there at halftime, these are the games you are meant to win,” he continued, “Shoot guys, I ain’t lying when I say you are built for it.”
After Finch stepped away from the huddle he discussed what his message was to his team at the halftime break.
“We’ve been in these all year. We usually figure stuff out late in the game, and we are gonna do it and not overthink it.”
When asked what he saw to take advantage of in the second half, Finch replied, “We really felt at halftime, we thought they are laying their ears back coming. We felt like we could run the football on em’ in the second half.”
Nassar shared a similar sentiment going into the second half.
“Just do what the Bruins can do...all year it’s been a battle to the end, always prevailing and pulling away at the end.”
Brentwood will go on to play Bartlett next Friday at 7 p.m. for what should be another close battle between these two programs.