By SAM McGAW | Photos by STEVE WHEELER
A switch flipped for the Brentwood Bruins Friday.
After trailing Henry County 13-7 late in the first half, the Bruins rattled off 31 unanswered points to take down their Region 7-5A foe 38-13.
Quarterback Carson Shacklett led the assault with four passing touchdowns and one rushing score.
“This was fun,” Shacklett said. “We had a great game plan coming in. We knew we had to win one of these next two games to punch our way into the playoffs, and we just helped our chances tonight.”
Tight end Christian LaBreche and wide receiver Will Leone scored two touchdowns apiece, while Brentwood’s defense held Henry County to 70 total yards in the second half.
“It was great to see us play with a lot of passion and energy,” Brentwood head coach Ron Crawford said. “We gained some confidence along the way through our play. We played great football in all phases of the game.”
Henry County, which entered the game undefeated in league play, battles Centennial for first place in the region next week. If it loses and Brentwood and Rossview (4-5, 4-2) win, there will be a three-way tie for second place.
Brentwood, which sits in fourth place, visits Clarksville (2-7, 1-5) next week. Finishing in the top two guarantees at least one home playoff game.
“If we win next week, it’ll be our first winning regular season in four years,” said Shacklett, who finished with 163 passing yards and 53 rushing yards. “That’s what Coach Crawford came back here to do. Hopefully, we can do that and add a home playoff game to the mix.”
Henry County gashed Brentwood for around 200 rushing yards in the first half. The second half was a different story, however, as the Patriots failed to cross midfield a single time.
“Coach Crawford gave us a speech at halftime, telling us to punch it into the playoffs,” said Brentwood edge defender Kyle Weiner, who recorded sacks on three straight plays during Henry County’s final drive. “They’re a great team and we had a close game with them last year. We wanted to come out better.”
A failed 40-yard field goal attempt by Henry County midway through the second quarter proved to be the turning point for the Bruins.
Trailing 13-7 after the miss, Shacklett engineered a quick 80-yard drive that was capped off with a 34-yard touchdown pass down the seam to LaBreche with 3:37 left in the half.
Shacklett tacked on a 39-yard touchdown strike downfield to Will Leone two minutes later to go into halftime with a 21-13 lead.
Tucker Day’s 50-yard field goal increased the advantage to 11 four minutes into the third frame.
Leone’s toe-tapping 19-yard reception in the back of the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter pushed Brentwood’s lead to 31-13, and Shacklett’s 1-yard touchdown run capped the scoring with two minutes to play.
“We’ve been searching for our identity,” Crawford said. “We wanted to run the football, but what I think what we’ve done lately is our identity; it’s spreading it out and letting our quarterback make some plays with his feet and his arm.”
The Bruins jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on a 15-yard connection from Shacklett to LaBreche a minute and a half into the game.
Henry County pushed ahead 13-7 early in the second quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Savon Stewart.
LaBreche led Brentwood in receiving with five catches for 83 yards, while Leone had two catches for 58 yards.