By SAM McGAW
Brentwood narrowly avoided a disaster against the Clarksville Northeast Eagles (2-4, 0-3) on homecoming Friday night.
After struggling throughout the third quarter, the Bruins needed 13 unanswered points in the final frame to pull away from their Region 7-Class 5A foe 41-26.
A loss would’ve made the road to the playoffs an uphill climb for Brentwood, which now sits in fourth place in the region standings.
“We still have a lot of room to get better,” Brentwood head coach Ron Crawford said. “We have to find some answers in some spots. We’re just not a very disciplined football team right now, and that falls on me. We aren’t disciplined in a whole lot of things we do.”
The Bruins struggled to contain Northeast’s triple-option attack, giving up big play after big play.
Northeast quarterback Quinton Cross had an 80-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter and an 81-yard touchdown pass to receiver Vodrick Anderson with 1:23 left in the third frame to cut Brentwood’s lead to 28-26.
The Eagles finished with 381 yards of total offense.
“That’s a talented bunch of athletes over there, and we struggled to tackle them in space,” Crawford stated.
Brentwood quarterback Carson Shacklett rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another.
A 70-yard catch and run by receiver Parker Bullion set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Shacklett to push the Bruins ahead 38-26 with 7:07 left in the game.
“We just had to stay the process,” said Shacklett, who finished with 187 passing yards and 77 rushing yards. “Coach Crawford does a great job. He knows how to beat teams in tough situations. We just have to do a better job on offense to give our defense a better chance.”
Kicker Tucker Day nailed field goals from 42 and 43 yards in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve challenged him and made him compete for his job like all of our other players compete for their jobs, and he’s done a great job over the last two weeks of competing for it,” Crawford said. “He’s made the most of his opportunities.”
Brentwood jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run by Shacklett and 14-yard run by Matt Phillips.
A 64-yard touchdown strike from Shacklett to receiver Christian LaBreche down the seam gave the Bruins a 21-7 advantage on the first play of the second quarter.
Shacklett added another 1-yard touchdown run with 23 seconds left in the half for a 28-13 lead.
Despite closing the second quarter hot, the Bruins’ offense came out of halftime flat.
Its first two drives were three-and-outs, and it struggled to move the chains for most of the third quarter.
Northeast took advantage of Brentwood’s struggles and cut its deficit to 28-26 with a 23-yard touchdown run by Gus Antoine and Anderson’s touchdown reception with 1:23 remaining in the frame.
“We’re struggling to determine why we’re slow starters and then we can come out and run the same plays and do well,” Crawford said. “We’re trying to get our guys to turn it on and leave it on all week. We have to get some consistency out of our offense.”
Sam McGaw is sports editor of Home Page Media Group. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.