When the Brentwood Academy football team suffered a regular-season loss to McCallie last year, the Eagles were deflated, but not derailed.
They’re hoping that will be the case again this year.
In a matchup of Division II-AAA powerhouses on Friday night, the top-ranked Eagles surrendered a touchdown with 46 seconds remaining and dropped a 28-23 heartbreaker at home to No. 2-ranked McCallie.
Brentwood Academy (2-1, 0-1) almost pulled off some last-minute magic, as quarterback Wade Williams moved the Eagles frantically down the field. But the drive ended at the McCallie 8-yard line with an incomplete pass on the final play of the game, setting off a big celebration by the Blue Tornado (3-0, 1-0) and their fans.
The hold-your-breath finish was similar to last season, when McCallie came to BA and rallied for a 31-27 win by scoring two touchdowns in the final five minutes to snap the Eagles’ 24-game winning streak. But that stinging defeat ended up just being a bump in the road for Brentwood Academy, which ultimately went on to capture its fourth straight state championship.
Now, the Eagles find themselves in a similar position — needing to learn from a loss and keep moving forward.
“We’ve been here before; we will be all right,” said Brentwood Academy’s Jordan James. “We lost two games in a row last year — to them (McCallie) and MBA — and we ended up winning state.”
James had a huge night for the Eagles. He finished with 250 all-purpose yards, including an electrifying 92-yard TD kickoff return in the third quarter. He also rushed for 100 yards on 15 carries.
James’ one-yard touchdown run with 5:29 to play in the fourth quarter gave the Eagles their first lead of the night, 23-22. But McCallie answered by putting together a long drive that was capped by Gavin Cagle’s decisive 15-yard run with 46 seconds to play.
Brentwood Academy head coach Cody White said he reminded his team that all of their goals are still on the table.
“I told the kids, there’s nothing being handed out today,” said White. “We’re going to continue to improve, and hopefully we will be there in the end. All of these experiences will be stockpiled.”
The game — which featured a high number of Division-I prospects on both rosters — lived up to all its expectations. After a low-scoring first half, the teams combined for four touchdowns (scoring two each) in the final 7:53 of the third quarter by trading explosive plays.
McCallie, coached by former BA head coach Ralph Potter, compiled 319 rushing yards on the night, the bulk of which came from BJ Harris (148 yards on 29 carries) and quarterback DeAngelo Hardy (134 yards on 26 attempts). Hardy also passed for 120 yards, completing 10-of-15 attempts with one touchdown.
“They have a really good outfit,” said White, “and this was a very good football game between two teams that played really hard. I thought we did some stuff in the second half that was pretty good. We just have to start a little earlier than we did tonight. We definitely started pretty slowly.”
Williams, the BA quarterback, passed for 219 yards, completing 10-of-15 passes. Amir Anoor had three catches for 83 yards, and also had a big night on defense.
McCallie produced two amazingly similar scoring drives that served as bookends to the game. They moved 80 yards in 13 plays on their opening possession of the first quarter, and they also marched 80 yards in 13 plays on their final possession of the night. Both drives featured exclusively rushing plays.
McCallie owned a 7-3 lead at halftime, and the advantage might have been larger were it not for a pair of fumbles. The Blue Tornado extended the lead to 14-3 in the third quarter and owned a 22-10 lead after Hardy connected with Thompson Boyd on a 19-yard scoring pass with 5:20 remaining in the third quarter.
But Brentwood Academy stormed back with a pair of touchdowns — a 43-yard run by Williams with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter and the one-yard run by James with 5:29 left in the game — to take the lead.
“We have heart and we showed it tonight,” said James. “And if it happens again later in the season, where we get down late in the game, we’ll know we can bounce back like we did tonight.”
McCallie 28, Brentwood Academy 23
McCallie 7 0 15 6 — 28
BA 3 0 14 6 — 23
1Q 04:47 — McCallie: DeAngelo Hardy 12 run (Andrew Prescott kick)
1Q,02:12 — BA: Paxton Perry 32 FG
3Q,07:53 — McCallie: Hardy 1 run (Andrew Prescott kick)
3Q,07:38 — BA: Jordan James 92 kickoff return (Perry kick)
3Q,05:20 — McCallie: Thompson Byrd 19 pass from Hardy (Byrd rush)
3Q 04:38 — BA: Wade Williams 43 run (Perry kick)
4Q 05:29 — BA: James 1 yd run (Williams pass failed)
4Q 00:46 — McCallie: Gavin Cagle 15 run (Hardy rush failed)
First Downs — McCallie 29, BA 13)
Rushing Att-Yards — McCallie 61-319, 19-155
Passing Yards — McCallie 120, BA 219
Completions-Attempts-Int — McCallie 10-15-1, BA 10-17-0
Total Offense Yards — McCallie 439, BA 374
Fumbles / Lost — McCallie 4-2, BA 1-1
Punts / Ave — McCallie 2-37, BA 2-28.5
McCallie — BJ Harris 29-148, DeAngelo Hardy 26-134, Gavin Cagle 6-72.
BA — Jordan James 15-100, Wade Williams 4-57
McCallie — Thompson Byrd 7-80, Peyton Doughert 3-40
BA — Amir Anoor 3-83, Jordan James 3-21, Manny Scott 2-44, Devyn Curtis 1-46, Elijah Ealey 1-25.
McCallie — DeAngelo Hardy 10-15-1-1 — 120
BA — Wade Williams 10-15-0-0 — 219; Taylor Montiel 0-2-0-0 — 0