STORY BY JAKE DONOVAN | PHOTOS BY ANDY COLLIGNON
A mid-game downpour put a damper on the enthusiasm that otherwise came with Homecoming Night but did little to slow down the potent Brentwood Academy offense.
Standout senior running back Mario Pleasant racked up 131 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in leading the unbeaten Eagles to a 40-3 rout over visiting Knoxville Catholic on a soggy Friday evening of football at Carlton Flatt Field in Brentwood.
“The rain started coming down and we saw the fans’ attention were shifted on staying dry, so we had to do our best to keep them engaged,” Pleasant told Home Page. “Of course, our primary focus is always to win football games, but this night was special since it was Homecoming, so we had to give our dedicated fans that much stronger of an effort.”
Senior two-way starter Tahir Annoor contributed with five tackles, 123 return yards – most of which came on a 79-yard punt return – and a fumble recovery, while his sophomore brother Amir earned his first interception of the season.
Keondre Jarmon provided most of the offense for Knox Catholic. The freshman running back amassed 91 rushing yards, and was instrumental in several lengthy drives, only for his team to come up virtually empty on the scoreboard.
It started out promising for the Irish offense, eating up nearly five minutes of game clock on an opening drive that saw a 4th down conversion on risky play calling at midfield. The momentum was squandered, however, when Knox Catholic failed to move the chains following the first down.
Brentwood Academy certainly didn’t waste any time once they gained possession.
The 12-time state champions—including having won top honors in each of their past three seasons—managed a drive-salvaging 4th down conversion of their own, coming courtesy of senior two-way starting lineman Thomas Gore who punched through the gut on 4th and 2 to put the Eagles in the red zone.
From there, Pleasant capped a 14-play, 85-yard drive with a 3-yard dash to the house to give Brentwood Academy a 7-0 lead just as the rain began to pour down. The Eagles would remain ahead for the entire game, despite Knox Catholic more than doubling the home team on time of possession and running nearly twice as many offensive plays.
The Eagles defense didn’t need to get a stop on every play—only when it mattered most, namely keeping the Irish out of the end zone. It was a lesson learned the hard way for Knox Catholic on its very next drive, which opened with Jarmon dashing out for 65 combined yards on back-to-back rushes.
It was enough to put the visitors in the red zone, but efforts to get on the board were thwarted when Gore blocked a field goal attempt, with Tahir Annoor recovering the loose ball. Three plays later, junior quarterback Wade Williams (6-11, 75 yds, 1 TD; 84 rush yds, 1 TD) added to the Eagles lead with a 66-yard touchdown run.
Another rushing TD by Pleasant—this time a 21-yard dash—gave BA a commanding 20-0 lead before Knox Catholic finally found the scoreboard. It would come with just 11 seconds left in the 1st half, when junior kicker Paxton Robertson connected on a 21 yard field goal for the Irish’s only scoring drive of the night.
Brentwood Academy came flying out the gate to start the second half, with Pleasant returning the opening kickoff 79 yards for his third touchdown of the night. Tahir Annoor would run it just as far, his touchdown coming on a punt return midway through the 3rd quarter to give the Eagles a 34-3 lead and the resurgent crowd plenty of reason to cheer.
Williams threw the game’s lone touchdown passing, connecting with sophomore wide receiver Elijah Oatsvall on a 21-yard strike near the midway point of the 4th quarter. It wasn’t much of a passing night for either team given the poor weather conditions, but was enough to contribute to a well-rounded attack by the Eagles who produced 487 total yards.
BA—who moves to 6-0 ahead of their road trip versus Baylor High School next week—not only remains unbeaten but extends their win streak to 23 straight. Their last loss—a 31-24 nail biter to Montgomery Bell Academy in Oct.’ 16—was avenged in the sweetest way possible, upending MBA 42-38 in the 2016 District 11-AA championships, their second of three straight state titles.
The win was just one of two decided by seven points or less over the course of their current streak. After outscoring opponents 462-127 last season, the Eagles already enjoy a 254-36 margin through their first six games of the year.
“The big wins may look easy, but it comes from all the hard work we put in to stay on top,” Pleasant acknowledges. “We have a target on our back every game, but we are well-prepared for anything that our opponents can throw at us. That helps take the pressure off and just allow us to play football.”
Below is a slideshow of photos by photographer Andy Collignon.