It was a perfect Middle Tennessee Fall Friday night for some high school football under the lights and this week’s biggest game was McCallie at Brentwood Academy.
The crowd was still filing in as the players and fans anxiously waited for the ESPN commercial official to step off the field so the game could kick off. After the kick was blown dead for reaching the endzone you could feel the collective exhale. The number two Quarterback in the 2024 class, George MacIntyre, led the Brentwood Academy Eagles out on the field. His late grandfather of the same name was the head coach at Vanderbilt from 1979-85. Today, he would stand opposite a future Vanderbilt Quarterback in Jay St. Hilaire of the number one in Tennessee, McCallie Blue Tornado. With all the pressure seemingly on his shoulders, and on national TV no less, how would MacIntyre perform?
On the first drive, he never got a chance as the Eagles ran three times and were forced to punt. It was St. Hilaire’s turn. McCallie wasted no time capitalizing on this early stop. St. Hilaire turned to his left and hit Wide Receiver Keeyshawn Tabuteau on a screen pass. Tabuteau turned up field and turned on the jets making multiple Eagles miss and he showed off his speed and field vision following his lead blockers with lightning fast precision. This 55-yard catch and run out the Blue Tornado up 7-0 early on. The next two series did not go the way BA or MacIntyre were looking to start off. After a tipped pass led to an interception the BA defense got the ball back for the offense saving game-changing points off a turnover but they would have to start under the shadow of their own goalpost.
MacIntyre hit a streaming receiver down the sideline to give BA some breathing room and seemed settled, yet on the next play hit McCallie DB, Choosen Lokombe right in the hands for both of their second interceptions on the night. McCallie began to move in on extending their lead and looked to have done so on a rainbow from St. Hilaire to the back of the endzone but the catch was called incomplete and out of the back boundary.
The next play from St. Hilaire was less exciting for the Blue Tornado as the pass was picked off over the middle. The Eagles now had a chance, at the very least, to flip field position going into the second quarter but after the McCallie defense held and forced them to punt, the punt was blocked. McCallie took over on the BA 40-yard line and, as we went into the second quarter, were threatening once again. Brentwood Academy’s defense had stood tall to keep the game at just 7-0 and would have to do so again in the second.
Shortly after the second quarter began, BA’s defense was finally breached as McCallie running back Ja’Von McMahan cut back twice behind the line on a handoff and shed a would-be tackler on his way in for a 10-yard score, making it 14-0 Blue Tornado. BA needed a response and MacIntyre was going to have to deliver it. That became a difficult proposition on this drive as the Blue Tornado began tearing through the Eagles O-Line. This pressure put BA in a 3rd and 15 situation. The Eagles needed this one. MacIntyre had just enough time on 3rd to fire a 40-yard pass over the middle to convert and then some and the Eagles had life but quickly found themselves in a 4th and 6 situation on the positive side of the field. MacIntyre hit his check down with green grass but Blue Tornadoes closing. The receiver knifed upfield and stretched out the ball to just get enough for the first. BA worked the ball down to first and goal looking to cut the McCallie lead in half. A handoff to Brax Belville was stuffed at the goal line but was then pushed in by a host of Eagles and, with just under seven minutes to go in the half, McCallie led 14-7.
McCallie began to move the ball in chunks as the O-line bulldozed pathways for McMahan. The Blue Tornado ran McMahan all the way down the field to the goal line and seemed to have scored before having a procedure penalty and two sacks by AJ Barbat back them up to the 30 facing 4th and goal with just 54 seconds remaining in the half. McCallie sent out the kicker to try a 45-yard field goal. The kick had the height and distance from 45 but spun wide left. This gave BA the ball with just over 30 seconds to go but after the Eagles we’re unable to do anything with the amount of time remaining, both teams went to the locker rooms with McCallie hanging on to a 14-7 lead.
As we began the second half, Mcallie picked up right where they left off, handing the ball to McMahan and moving Eagles out of the way. McMahan continued to run with power and legs that never stopped moving till the whistle blew. This power allowed McMahan to push through a pileup in the middle of the secondary and shed a few tackles before breaking off a 50-plus-yard run, setting up the Blue Tornado to extend their lead. Just like the end of the first half, after moving the ball into the red zone, penalties backed McCallie into a goal-to-go situation on the 31-yard line. Once again McCallie was forced to try a long field goal but this time the height and distance were nowhere to be found. The Eagles took over with a chance to tie. Opening the half with a stop seemed to be just the momentum boost BA needed as they rattled off first downs and the clock tucked under 6:30 to go in the third quarter.
The McCallie defense held and forced a field goal attempt that BA missed, much to the disbelief in the referee’s opinion by the home fans; and we remained at 14-7 with 4:00 to go in the quarter with no score since the seven-minute mark in the second quarter.
McCallie quickly moved the ball down to the 1-yard line after some nice runs from St. Hilaire and this time the Blue Tornado did not leave empty handed. McMahan walked into the endzone, extending the lead to 20-7 with 1:25 left in the third after the PAT was blocked. The crowd began to feel the importance of this next drive for the Eagles as the bass from the sound system shook stands full of already uneasy stomachs. Little did they know, things were about to get worse. MacIntyre’s next pass was picked off in the flat and all of a sudden, McCallie had the ball on the BA 14-yard line with a first down opportunity before reaching a goal to go and that’s how we entered the fourth quarter.
Brentwood Academy needed a stop and response as time began to tick away and chip away at their chances to win. Another timely sack in the red zone forced another field goal attempt, this time from the 20. This time around, the kick was good and with 11:00 to go McCallie led 23-7. The proceeding critical drive started off with a big play from MacIntyre to Shavar Young, setting up the Eagles near midfield. On the very next play, a heave to the endzone was knocked away at the last minute by a McCallie defensive back.
With less than 10 minutes left in the game, BA faced a fourth and seven. Needing points, they were forced to go for it. MacIntyre, standing tall in the pocket at 6’4, planted his feet and found a receiver for the first down when they had to have it, but the Eagles were quickly faced with another fourth down; this time with five yards and eight minutes to go.
After taking a timeout to talk things over, the Eagles snapped the ball and the play was already over. A Blue Tornado defensive lineman burst through the line and came pressing down on MacIntyre who was spinning and dancing in the backfield to avoid the sack. He evaded one defender then two then looked up as if he was coming up out of water for a breath and found an open receiver sitting in an open zone for a first down. After working the ball down to the six-yard line, Tamari Hill darted across the goal line with six minutes remaining. The two-point conversion was a must-get for the Eagles as they were down 10. MacIntyre found Kolbe Harmon in the left flat and he walked in for two. McCallie now had just a one-score lead. BA elected to kick it deep and rely on their defense for a stop. To get the ball back they’d have to slow down McMahan, a feat they had not been able to accomplish all night. The Blue Tornado Conroy leans on McMahan and slowly bleeds the clock away and with it BA’s hope. But then, near midfield, the defense stood strong. McCallie faced a third and two from the 43-yard line. McCallie turned to what had been working all night and handed the ball to McMahan who slashed through the BA defense and carried 4 Eagles who were draped over him into the endzone for the last 10 yards and his third touchdown of the night. The PAT was blocked and with 3:49 remaining, The Blue Tornado led 29-15. The Eagles were not able to move the ball and turned it over on downs. McCallie had won. They just had to wait for the clock to confirm it. After McMahan picked up the final first down, The Blue Tornado took the field in the victory formation and got out of Brentwood with a 29-15 win.
Our MVP of the game is Ja’Von McMahan. Ja’Von rushed for three touchdowns, scoring 21 of McCallie’s 29 points and was the engine that made the offense go. You can find the interview with MVP below.