By CHIP CIRILLO | Photos by ANDY COLLIGNON
COOKEVILLE — At the end of every Brentwood Academy walkthrough practice, the Eagles work on last-minute drives.
It paid off big-time when a last-minute drive gave the Eagles their second straight Division II-AA title with a 42-38 win over Montgomery Bell Academy at Tennessee Tech on Thursday night.
Quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall’s 6-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left rallied BA (10-2) to consecutive championships for the first time since winning Class 5A in 1995 and 1996.
Trailing 38-34 with 2:05 left, the Eagles marched 80 yards in five plays.
“It wasn’t anything new to us and we just did what we did all year,” Oatsvall said. “I think it was just confidence. We’ve been told that after losing so many people last year that we couldn’t get back, we couldn’t win it.”
Win it they did with an MVP performance by Oatsvall, an Austin Peay commit who piled up 498 yards in total offense.
The 6-foot-1, 191-pound senior passed for 356 yards and three TDs and rushed for 142 yards and one TD.
“Our guys know how to finish,” BA coach Cody White said. “What I’m pleased with is they kept hanging in there. We’ve done it two years in a row and it hasn’t been done in a while at BA, so I’m proud of our seniors and how they left this program.”
The Eagles beat the Big Red (10-3) in a wild shootout two straight years, including last season’s 56-55 double-overtime win in the final.
BA broke a state championship record with 633 yards in total offense. Ezell-Harding held the old record with 603.
BA won its 12th state championship and MBA finished second for the fifth time.
Junior Cam Johnson led the Eagles with six receptions for 160 yards and one TD.
His 39-yard catch from Oatsvall to the MBA 24-yard line was the biggest play in the final drive.
“I know that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time moments, so I knew that I had to do something and I knew that if my number was called I going to be able to perform for my team,” Johnson said. “When (Jeremiah and I) are clicking and the team is clicking, we’re the best team in the state and I think we showed that tonight.”
Johnson said Ohio State, Florida and Tennessee have shown a lot of interest in him lately on the recruiting trail.
BA avenged a 31-24 regular-season loss to MBA. Eagles running back Tomario Pleasant rushed for 100 yards and two TDs on 20 carries.
“They just flat-out beat us (the first time) and we weren’t ready to play, and I think this time the bye week and the preparation this week really was a separation point for us because we knew deep inside we could beat these guys,” Oatsvall said. “So it was just a willingness to tackle and willingness to finish a game.”
Running back Ty Chandler, a Tennessee commit, led the Big Red with 218 rushing yards and three TDs.
“You know, it’s tough, but a loss is a loss,” said Chandler, the DII-AA Mr. Football the past two seasons. “We were able to open it up in the second half and get things going a little bit. Oatsvall is a great player and I respect him.”
MBA and BA combined for 993 yards in total offense, including 360 by the Big Red.
Johnson’s 67-yard TD reception from Oatsvall gave BA a 34-24 lead with 3:55 remaining in the third quarter, but Chandler’s last two TD runs put MBA on top 38-34 with 2:05 left.
“This is high school at its best,” MBA coach Marty Euverard said. “It stings, it’s going to hurt, but our guys played hard. Oatsvall is a good player. He can throw, he can run. We faced a good football team and again came up short in the end.”
Linebackers Jeremiah Pittman and Jackson Sirmon both made crucial interceptions of Ty Allen passes for BA in the fourth quarter.
BA’s precision offense converted 8 of 10 third downs. MBA went 5 for 5 in the red zone.
Free safety Nick German led MBA with 10 tackles and two fumble recoveries.