By SAM McGAW | Photos by ANDY COLLIGNON
Brentwood quarterback Carson Shacklett doesn’t mind when his team gets in a shootout. In fact, he thrives in those situations.
He proved just that against the Kirby Cougars (4-7) in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday night.
The junior dual-threat accounted for 189 passing yards, 125 rushing yards, four passing touchdowns and two rushing scores to lift the Bruins to a 55-28 win at home.
“We’re fine with games like these,” Shacklett said. “Our defense has helped us out a lot this season, but we know if the offense has to put up a bunch of points, we can definitely do that, too. Our offense really came together tonight.”
Shacklett’s first four touchdowns went unanswered in the second quarter to send the Bruins (7-4) into halftime with a 35-14 advantage.
“He’s gotten better each and every week,” Brentwood head coach Ron Crawford said. “We’re huge on running with the quarterback and we’re going to throw the football. That’s going to open up our play for our running backs. We also had both of our starting tackles back for the first time in three weeks, so that helped us.”
Brentwood will travel to face the Memphis Central Warriors (10-1) in the second round next Friday. The Bruins beat them 52-7 in last year’s opening round.
LaBreche and Bullion caught two touchdowns apiece against Kirby, as the offense racked up 480 total yards.
Brentwood needed every bit of that production, as its defense didn’t have many answers for containing Kirby running back Hosea Franklin.
The elusive senior scored on touchdown runs of 5, 44, 74 and 80 yards.
“We knew that their running back was special,” Crawford said. “We made a couple of mistakes on cutbacks, and we knew we couldn’t do that against him. We knew we had to build a fence around him and get people to the ball. We had to do some things that we hadn’t practiced just to get our edges wider.”
While the Bruins struggled to slow down the big-play back, they got a stop when they needed it most.
With 11:34 left in the game, the Bruins stuffed Franklin on fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line to preserve a 41-28 lead.
They drove the length of the field in the ensuing drive, which was capped off with a 44-yard touchdown connection from Shacklett to Bullion with 7:40 remaining.
“We drew up a couple of things in the dirt and it worked, which usually that doesn’t happen,” Crawford said of the goal-line stand. “Our kids played with a lot of determination there at the end. Give their coaches and their kids credit, too. They were crawling back in it and they battled and fought to the end.”
LaBreche scored both of his touchdowns on back-to-back drives to give the Bruins a 21-14 lead with 7:04 left in the second frame.
Bullion’s first touchdown pushed Brentwood ahead 41-20 with 4:56 left in the third quarter. Franklin responded with an 80-yard dash to the end zone on the first play of the ensuing drive.
Bullion finished with four receptions for 95 yards, while LaBreche had six catches for 48 yards.
Running backs Collin Rudolph and Kaden Dreier tacked on one rushing touchdown apiece.
Kirby racked up 467 total yards, including 298 on the ground.
Sam McGaw is sports editor of Home Page Media Group. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.