HUNTINGTON LEARNING CENTER GAME OF THE WEEK
By CHIP CIRILLO | Photos by ANDY COLLIGNON
Brentwood Academy didn’t need any extra motivation against a fierce rival like Montgomery Bell Academy, but it got some anyway.
“It was very well known in our locker room that they scheduled us as their homecoming and we took it very personally, so we wanted to come out with a bang,” Eagles quarterback Gavin Schoenwald said. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, that’s a great football team and they’ve got a great coach, but if you schedule us for homecoming we’re going to take it personally.”
Teams normally schedule easy opponents for homecoming, but BA is ranked eighth nationally in the USA Today Super 25 poll.
Schoenwald threw three touchdown passes, all in the first half, en route to a 29-0 win Friday.
The Vanderbilt commit threw his first TD pass to Mike Archie and the next two to fellow Commodore commit Cam Johnson.
Schoenwald completed 13 of 17 passes for 150 yards, leading the Eagles (8-0, 5-0 Division II-AAA East/Middle Region) to their 13th straight victory.
“He’s an accurate, accurate passer,” BA coach Cody White said. “They were giving us some stuff and I felt like our guys did a good job protecting up front. He’s continuing to get better and get more comfortable in what he’s doing and that’s helping us immensely.”
The Eagles scored touchdowns on their first three possessions to take a commanding 22-0 lead.
Schoenwald hit Archie on a 10-yard fade route, Daniel Taylor galloped 70 yards on a punt return and then Schoenwald rolled out before finding Johnson on a 20-yard TD pass with 5:33 left in the first quarter.
“We wanted to make a statement,” Schoenwald said. “That was a little bit bigger bang than I thought we’d get. I think from the start everyone in the stadium was shocked.”
The lopsided win was surprising considering BA barely beat MBA 42-38 in last year’s DII-AA final after a wild 56-55 thriller in the 2015 championship.
MBA (7-2, 3-2) suffered its first shutout loss since a 32-0 setback to Baylor in the 2006 season finale.
“I think this is arguably the best defense since I’ve been here,” White said. “It’s nice to be able to ride those guys.”
The Big Red missed a great scoring opportunity when Brenden Harris blocked a BA punt and Gordon Pollock recovered it at the Eagles’ 23-yard line late in the fourth quarter. But the BA defense held.
“That tells you a lot about their character,” White said. “They move it backwards and that’s what they’re kind of about.”
BA earned a first-round bye in the playoffs, but it needs a win in next week’s regular-season finale against Ensworth (7-2, 4-1) to win the Division II-AAA East/Middle Region title.
Running back Tomario Pleasant led BA with 108 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Schoenwald connected with Johnson on a 6-yard TD pass, increasing BA’s lead to 29-0 with three seconds left in the first half.
The Big Red suffered their second straight loss after falling to Ensworth 10-7 the previous week.
“Give them a lot of credit, but we definitely didn’t play our best game,” MBA coach Marty Euverard said. “They’re big and fast.”
Running back Michael McGuire, who missed the previous five games with a dislocated elbow, led MBA with 86 rushing yards on 21 carries.
“(BA) did a good job of flowing and fitting in the holes,” McGuire said. “They’re very quick. They get to the outside really fast. It’s hard for me to make cuts.”
BA held MBA quarterback Ty Allen to a 4 of 14 showing for 60 yards.