The Brentwood Academy Eagles used some late game heroics by its offense to overcome the Ensworth Tigers, 10-7, in a defensive struggle Thursday night.
After two Ensworth penalties kept the final drive alive, BA sophomore quarterback George MacIntyre scrambled, and with pressure all around him, found Griffin Cropp for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 0:21 left to play in the contest.
The win gave the Eagles (7-2, 4-0) a stranglehold on the top spot in the Division II-AAA West region. It was their eighth consecutive victory over Ensworth (6-3, 3-1).
“Getting a win over your rival is good anytime,” Brentwood Academy head coach Cody White said. “The way it happened, it’s fun for the kids and it shows a lot about their character how they responded in the end. That last drive was pretty special.”
The last drive, which started with 3:17 left to play in the fourth quarter and covered over 60 yards, featured a key reception by Ian Scott to get the ball around midfield. Then a few plays later, Ensworth committed an offside penalty on fourth-and-short to give the Eagles a first down. The next series saw McIntyre sacked. But later, the drive continued thanks to a defensive holding penalty, which eventually led to the touchdown.
McIntyre finished the game 16-26 for 179 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
BA, which averaged 32.2 points per game coming into Thursday, found it tough to points on the board against the stingy Tigers defense.
Brentwood Academy finally got on the board first early in the second quarter thanks to a 44-yard field goal by senior kicker George Laster. The first half ended with the score 3-0 Eagles.
Ensworth came out in the second half and started running the ball, which they had not done much of in the first half. Quarterback Levi Moore used his legs effectively on the drive, which included a 27-yard scamper and a run inside the 1-yard line, capped by a Martez Cooksey touchdown to make the score 7-3.
The Tigers would eventually rack up 269 yards on the ground, with 117 attributed to Moore on just 12 attempts.
Running back Duece Scott led the way for BA with 84 yards on 20 attempts. The team had just 93 yards rushing on the evening.
Turnovers, and two key field-goal blocks, kept Brentwood Academy in the game. The Eagles got one in the first quarter to keep the game scoreless early. The other came with 6:17 left to play in the fourth quarter with Ensworth, which had a field-goal block of its own, and Moore threatening to score, which would have given the Tigers a two-score margin. The Eagles had a bend but don’t break mentality on defense throughout the night.
“Particularly in the first half, we blocked two field goals, anytime we can put the game in our special teams’ hands we are going to be successful,” White said. “Our defense understands we’ve got a chance every single time. Every play is important, and those guys did a nice job.”
Both teams’ defenses went back and forth midway through the third quarter with consecutive interceptions. After McIntyre misfired on a short route that was returned into Eagles territory, Moore threw an interception to Isaiah Cain.
Moore threw another interception in the final seconds, this one to Luke Smith to finish the game and give the Eagles the victory.
He finished just 7-20 for 42 yards and two interceptions.
White talked about how much a hard-fought victory like this helps a team grow and improve, especially going into the postseason.
“We want to build some momentum off of this win and continue to improve,” White said. “Teams that don’t improve, or just stay the same this time of year, are the teams that get beat in the end. We have got a long ways to go to get better, which is a good thing. It's a lot easier to improve from a win than a loss.
Brentwood Academy will host Memphis University School next Friday for a chance to win the region outright and celebrate its senior night. Ensworth will close out its regular season at Briarcrest Christian High School in another region contest.