Science Hill had so many bodies lying on the field Friday that it reminded you of a battlefield reenactment.
Big, physical Brentwood Academy came into Kermit Tipton Stadium and left a mark – many marks – while powering its way to a 45-0 victory.
The Eagles (3-3), a state semifinalist last season, were in a foul mood after three straight losses to talented teams, and Science Hill (3-2) was in no position to even make it interesting when quarterback Malik McGue went down late in the first quarter with an ankle injury.
Tyler Swafford passed for 270 yards and five touchdowns, including two apiece to C.J. Sanders and Tanner Priest. After watching Murfreesboro Siegel score 64 points against Science Hill last week, Brentwood Academy coach Cody White was confident the Eagles would move the ball through the air.
“Honestly, I felt like our receiving corps is a little bit stouter than Siegel’s is,” White said, “so we felt good there.”
Science Hill trailed 7-0 when the injury occurred to McGue (six carries, 58 yards), who had helped the Hilltoppers advance the ball to the Brentwood Academy 21.
Science Hill missed a 38-yard field goal on the play following McGue’s injury, and it was like a dam burst – in terms of the scoreboard and the Hilltoppers’ injury list.
Actually, Science Hill’s injuries began in warm-ups, when starting cornerback Mikey White had a tendon pop out of his hand. He will have surgery today, according to Science Hill coach Stacy Carter.
Receiver Isaac Story and offensive lineman Cory Johnson were injured on Science Hill’s first series of the second quarter, and running back Chance Pierce (kneecap) was among the others to leave the game with an injury.
Even Hilltoppers not suffering game-ending injuries (or worse) were frequently slow to get up and had to be helped off the field. Brentwood Academy reminded you of Tom Osborne’s Nebraska.
Led by Derek Barnett, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound tight end/defensive end with numerous Division I offers, including Tennessee and Vanderbilt, the Eagles defensive line created push. But even backup quarterback Dawson Knox was running over Hilltoppers.
“It was physical,” Carter said, “but heck, I’ve just never been in a game where that many things happened at one time. I mean you lose your quarterback, you lose your center, you lose your tight end, you lose your running back. … We lost our cornerback before the game in warm-ups, Mikey. … I mean, all that happened … before the game and the first 10 minutes.”
Brentwood Academy got on the scoreboard when safety Chris Currin stripped Story after a 10-yard reception and returned it 45 yards for a TD with 8:01 left in the first quarter. It was the first of five turnovers for Science Hill.
A 31-yard TD pass to Sanders and a two-point pass to Priest made it 15-0 with 10:33 left in the first half. The Hilltoppers’ tackling attempts on the 31-yard TD weren’t impressive, and the Eagles repeatedly blocked well while executing bubble screens and other passes emphasizing yards after the catch.
“It deflates a team when you see your quarterback go,” Carter said. “And then you see your center go. … Everybody’s affected by that.”
Sanders caught a 7-yard score to help make it 22-0 with 5:16 left in the second quarter.
A blocked punt out of the end zone made the score 24-0 with 1:12 left in the half, and Priest’s 31-yard TD catch 27 seconds before intermission sent at least half of the Hilltoppers fans to the exits.
Brentwood Academy lost 29-22 in overtime last week to No. 1 Montgomery Bell Academy, after losing to St. Xavier (Ohio) and No. 3 Father Ryan (24-20) in the previous two games.
“We played some pretty good teams,” the Eagles’ White said. “We’ve played pretty good football. … It was good to come in here and get one.
“I felt like, obviously, I hate it for their quarterback. That changes the dynamics of those guys offensively.”
McGue was walking around gingerly after the injury, but Carter wasn’t ready to say he’ll play next week.
“It’s encouraging, but who knows,” Carter said. “It’s not a knee or anything. It’s an ankle or a bone bruise.”
McGue’s first carry went for 11 yards and his fourth carry was good for 44 yards. Not to suggest he would’ve changed the outcome, but the Hilltoppers offense looked drastically different without him.
“I mean, Malik was running wild,” Carter said. “He was getting big yards. It takes a guy like that to buy time and get yards. I think that wasn’t gonna be the only big runs he had.”
Pierce had 15 carries for 42 yards before getting injured early in the third quarter.
“We’ll just have to see on that,” Carter said. “He has a kneecap deal. Cory (Johnson) is hurt. … Story’s hurt; something similar to Malik.”
White appreciated Science Hill scheduling his Eagles, and not because of the final score.
“Coach Carter is one of the few guys in this state that will actually play, you know, people like us, and I applaud him for it,” White said. “And I think it’ll pay dividends as he goes down the road, because most of these schools won’t play us.”
Assuming the Hilltoppers heal in a timely manner, Carter’s inclined to agree.
“That’s just one of those dark-cloud days, I guess you could say, this one was,” Carter said. “This life’s not easy. This a good lesson for these kids that hey, things happen sometimes.”
Science Hill visits Tennessee High on Friday.