The homecoming festivities were over, the National Anthem had been played, and it was football time in Middle Tennessee. More specifically, it was time for Williamson County’s Oldest Rivalry. Franklin was hosting Brentwood for 2023 edition of one of the biggest rivalries in our state.
The Admirals started with the ball, greeted with Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blaring from the Brentwood sideline from the packed away student section that had made the trip. Franklin began to try to establish the run right into the teeth of the Bruin defense and found small success but not enough to move the chains. Brentwood took over after a nice punt from the Admirals and began to move the ball. Some timely conversions moved the drive into Franklin territory but stalled around the 25 yard line. Coach Finch sent the kicker out on fourth and four for around a 40-yard field goal and the kick would’ve been good from 50 yards. With just over five minutes to go in the first the Bruins held a 3-0 lead. The Franklin O-line was doing a great job protecting QB, Brewer Wilson, who threw a strike rolling out to his right setting Franklin up in the redzone. Once there, the Admirals shifted to a more run based approach that the Bruin defensive front seemed all too ready for. With 1:56 left in the first we were all tied up at 3-3 after a Franklin field goal. Before the few seconds left in the quarter were able to tick off the clock Franklin was able to force a Brentwood punt. The second quarter would began with Franklin in control.
As the teams took the field for the start of the second quarter, Wilson and his offense had an opportunity to make a strong impression early in the game by capitalizing on the momentum shirt their defense had provided. The Admirals began to rattle off chunk plays on their way down the field from right to left across the midfield logo. It was then that the Bruins turned the tide, not only did they stall the Franklin drive but stopped a fake punt right at their own 45 yard line, setting up their offense with great field position. The Bruins turned to junior running back, Gavyn Nelson, to take point as he moved the ball down inside the opposite 35 before another runner broke through the front seven and had a walk-in touchdown. Just before he reached the goal line an Admiral chased him down from behind and knocked the ball out and into the endzone for a touchback. The game was becoming a test of who could take advantage of the opportunities they were given. A missed field goal on the ensuing Bruin drive only reinforced this, but an interception by Walker Childs gave the Bruins another chance on the very next play. With 2:00 left in the half Brentwood looked to take a lead on the road. As the clock ran under 20 seconds a bad snap from the Bruins who had moved the ball down to the Franklin 1 yard line left them with a 4th and goal from the 6, as well as a huge decision with 10 seconds to go… The offense took the field. Dynamic quarterback, Baylor Hayes, took the snap and rolled to his right. After crossing the right hash and finding no Bruins open, the Franklin defense began to close in as Hayes reversed field. Keeping his eyes upfield he saw Mason Ball all alone in the left front corner of the endzone. While on the run Hayes fired a nearly 25-yard throw across his body for just a six-yard touchdown and a seven point lead going into the half as Brentwood led 10-3.
Brentwood received the second half kick with a chance to really take control but once again could not take advantage. Franklin fair-caught the punt near midfield and had great field position for their first drive of the half. Facing a third and one, coming out of a timeout, the Admirals drew up a bomb that Wilson completed to a wide open Lucas Young for the easiest 50-yard touchdown you will ever see. Early in the second quarter, Williamson County’s Oldest Rivalry was all tied up at 10-10. The Bruins came out for their next drive with a new sense of purpose, and after two long runs were quickly in the redzone knocking on the door. Then the door was kicked in as Hayes found Ball for another touchdown from 20-yards out. Both teams had struck quickly and with 7:40 left in the third Brentwood led 17-10. Franklin began to move the ball well on the ensuing drive. After a first half where the defenses were in control the offenses had taken hold early in the second half. Franklin was able to move the ball down to the one yard line before Sean Gaca punched it in to make it 17-17 on the play you can watch below. With 3:57 to go in the third.
There was still a lot of football to be played but Brentwood was going to have to respond to hold serve. Holding true to the form of the second half, The Bruins came out and were able to move the ball easily to midfield before facing a third and long. You can watch this play below
After picking up the first down and tacking on the extra penalty yardage for the push, Brentwood was in business. They moved the ball down inside the redzone before handing it off to Gavyn Nelson
Nelson’s touchdown made it 24-17 Bruins and that is how the third quarter would come to a close. Entering the fourth, Admiral ball, down seven.
Would the offensive surge from the third quarter continue in the fourth? Franklin sure hoped so, but it was not the case as an ineligible receiver downfield penalty backed them into a third and 19 corner. They were unable to convert and to make matters worse the Admiral punt did not make it to midfield. The Bruins faced penalty yardage of their own after an illegal substitution but overcame that obstacle instantly as Nelson took a handoff down to the one yard line. On the next play Nelson finished what he started and plunged in for a one-yard score. With 10:22 remaining, Brentwood led 31-17. With the clock now becoming a factor Franklin needed a quick score, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty out them in a first and 25 hole. First and 25 became third and 24 and third and 24 became 4th and 20. Franklin was forced to punt but on the next play forced and recovered a fumble, giving the Admirals another chance. After a precious minute was bled off the clock and Wilson was sacked, Franklin faced a fourth and long. Wilson unleashed a long ball that was high pointed over the defensive back down the far sideline, giving Franklin a new set of downs. On the next a snap, Franklin, in an explosive play, seemed to have scored on a diving reach, but it was determined that the ball-carrier fumbled the ball into the endzone for a touchback. The Bruins survived a scare and took over with 5:00 remaining in the game. An option play by the Bruins was dropped and almost resulted in disaster for the away team but was recovered by Brentwood. However, this did stall the drive and allowed Franklin to get the ball back one more time. With 4:27 remaining, Franklin seemed to be on their third and last life. In theme with the game so far, it was going to come down to whether or not they could take advantage of the opportunity they were given. Another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was going to make that difficult. Difficult, but not impossible as the Admirals were able to move the ball inside the 35, then inside the 30, then inside the 20 on a fourth and three. Finally Wilson put the ball up in the short left corner of the endzone and an amazing one-handed catch by Lucas Young resulted in a touchdown for Franklin! Or had it? Ineligible receiver downfield. The play did not count and Franklin was backed up to the 16. After one wide open drop in the endzone and one well defended play it all came down to a fourth and 16 for the Admirals with 2:35 to play. Wilson dropped back and saw no one, so he took off and picked up the first down with his legs. It was now goal-to-go for Franklin. Needing a score and onside kick, they faced another fourth. You can watch the play below.
The receiver was there, but another drop. Franklin turned the ball over on downs and that was the game. Hayes kneeled out the clock and Brentwood was now 7-0 after a 31-17 win over arch-rival Franklin.
Brentwood offensive duo, Baylor Hayes (QB) and Gavyn Nelson (RB) are Co-MVPs for this one. Any time their team needed a big play, response, or energy boost it was one of these two that provided it. You can hear everything they had to say below.