BRENTWOOD — Brentwood Academy’s bid for a perfect season came to an end with a less-than-perfect performance.
Hampered by a number of uncharacteristic miscues, the top-ranked Eagles suffered a 28-18 loss to McCallie in the Division II-AAA semifinals on Friday night in front of a large and loud crowd at BA’s home field. It was the first loss of the year for the Eagles, and ended the team’s quest for its fifth state title in the past six years.
McCallie running back BJ Harris rushed for 98 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns for the Blue Tornado (9-3), who will face Memphis University School in the state championship game next week. MUS advanced to the title game with a 49-42 win over Montgomery Bell Academy on Friday night.
Brentwood Academy (11-1) defeated McCallie 30-27 in Week 3 of the regular season, but the Eagles fell behind early in Friday’s game and were unable to overcome the deficit.
BA was hoping to return to Cookeville, where the Eagles reeled off four straight state championships from 2015-2018 before enduring a rare playoff absence last season. But BA’s hunt for another state title came to end on a night in which the normally-regal Eagles struggled to find their usual rhythm.
“Sometimes it happens – and it’s unfortunate that it happened tonight,” said Brentwood Academy head coach Cody White. “You want to make sure that the other team beats you. Tonight, McCallie played great, but in a lot of cases, we beat ourselves. … It wasn’t for a lack of effort or anything like that. These kids have been outstanding all year long, and I’m really proud of them. They certainly don’t have anything to be ashamed of.”
Brentwood Academy — which overcame a 21-3 deficit in last week’s 34-31 win over Pope John Paul II — trailed 14-3 in Friday’s game after McCallie’s Aaron Crowder recovered a fumble and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown with 5:10 left in the first half. BA closed the gap to 14-10 with a 16-yard pass from senior quarterback Tayler Montiel to DJ Senter late in the first half, but McCallie scored a TD early in the third quarter to extend its lead to 21-10, and then added another score near the midway mark of the fourth quarter to push the advantage to 28-10.
BA mounted a late scoring drive, capped by Montiel’s 3-yard scoring run — and then added the two-point conversion on a pass from Montiel to Tom Husband — to trim the deficit to 28-18 with 3:06 remaining in the game. But the Eagles’ onside kick attempt was recovered by McCallie, and the Blue Tornado ran out the clock on their ensuing possession.
Montiel completed 17-of-34 passes — connecting with eight different receivers — for 167 yards with one interception and one touchdown. Deuce Scott rushed for a team-high 86 yards on 15 carries, and highly-touted receiver Amir Anoor finished with four catches for 25 yards. Anoor also had an interception on defense.
Montiel closed his outstanding senior season with 2,379 passing yards and 14 touchdowns.
BA senior kicker Teagen Lenderink, who is a finalist for the Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Kicker of the Year award, said he and his teammates were confident about mounting a comeback despite the uphill challenge.
“I felt like we were in it to the end,” said Lenderink, who connected on a 28-yard field goal in the first half. “We played our hearts out, and that’s what you’ve got to do. We play as a team, and we lose as a team. … I don’t think we were nervous or anything like that. It’s just how it goes sometimes. This team has been awesome, and it’s been an amazing atmosphere.”
Lenderink converted 14-of-18 field goal attempts this season, and was perfect on extra points, while showcasing one of the most powerful and accurate legs in the state.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for this season,” said Lenderink. “The seniors have welcomed me with open arms. It’s been an amazing season for me, a great transition (after) coming from Michigan. It’s been awesome. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
BA seemed to have some momentum entering the locker room at halftime after Montiel hooked up with Senter on the touchdown pass late in the second quarter to trim McCallie’s lead to 14-10. But BA’s opening possession of the third quarter resulted in a quick three-and-out, and McCallie capitalized by scoring a touchdown on its ensuing possession.
“We had a bad first series to open the second half, and that hurt us,” said White. “It was a field position game, and we didn’t do a great job of that. I felt like we played pretty good defense, mostly, other than two drives. We just didn’t do a great job of making something happen.”
Both teams put together long scoring drives in the first quarter. McCallie opened the game with an 80-yard march that chewed up more than seven minutes. The drive, which included four third-down conversions, ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Harris. BA answered with a long possession of its own, but the drive stalled in the red zone, and the Eagles settled for Lenderink’s 25-yard field goal with 54 seconds left in the quarter.
McCallie’s defense then delivered one of the night’s biggest plays, when Crowder scooped up a fumble and returned it for a touchdown to give McCallie a 14-3 lead. The Blue Tornado added another score in the third quarter, and maintained the lead from there.
White said it was special season for his team, especially given the unusual circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Truthfully, I am super excited that we were able to get a season in, because there were times when that was in question,” White said. “But these guys handled the weirdness of the season well — and really all of these teams did in Tennessee. The kids were resilient. When we started this thing, quite honestly, I was just glad when we got to play even one game, much less finish the season. It was a great journey.”
McCallie 28, Brentwood Academy 18, Division II-AAA semifinals
McCallie 7 7 7 7 — 28
BA 3 7 0 8 — 18
1Q (4:48) McCallie — BJ Harris 3 run (Jack Conklin kick);
1Q (0:54) BA — Teagen Lenderink 28 FG;
2Q (5:10) McCallie — Aaron Crowder 63 fumble return (Conklin kick);
2Q (1:30) BA — DJ Senter 16 pass from Taylor Montiel (Lenderink kick);
3Q (8:14) McCallie — BJ Harris 2 run (Jack Conklin kick);
4Q (7:43) McCallie — Eric Rivers 10 pass from William Riddle (Conklin kick);
4Q (3:06) BA — Montiel 3 run (Tom Husband pass from Montiel).
First Downs: McCallie 13, BA 16
Total offense: McCallie 202, BA 222
Rushing Att/Yards: McCallie 42-119, BA 25-55
Passing Yards: McCallie 83, BA 167
Comp-Att-Ints: McCallie 8-16-1, BA 17-34-1
Penalties-Yards: McCallie 3-25, BA 2-20
Punts-Ave: McCallie 3-29, BA 2-22.0
Fumbles-Lost: McCallie 1-0, BA 3-1
McCallie — BJ Harris 28-98, Eric Rivers 4-23, Nick Robinson 1-3, William Riddle 7-(-1); BA — Deuce Scott 15-86; Amir Anoor 1-3, Jalen Jones 1-0, Taylor Montiel 6-(-11).
McCallie — William Riddle 7-15-1-1 — 74, Eric Rivers 1-1-0-0 — 9; BA — Taylor Montiel 17-34-1-1 — 167.
McCallie — Jose Osa 4-38, Eric Rivers 2-19, Emile Bellerose 1-17, Kenzy Paul 1-9; BA — Ian Scott 4-41, Amir Anoor 4-25, Casen Calmus 3-21, Landon Wells 2-25, Tom Husband 1-21, DJ Senter 1-16, Elijah Ealey 1-16, Griffin Cropp 1-2.