By Maurice Patton
BRENTWOOD — Cade Granzow threw up a prayer, Luke Fontechia answered it and Brentwood overcame a two-touchdown halftime deficit Friday to stun visiting Independence 31-28 in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
Facing fourth down-and-goal from the Independence 4-yard line, Granzow was flushed out of the pocket and scrambled to his left before an Eagle defender closed in from behind and wrapped up his legs. As he was going to the ground, Granzow somehow got off a desperation underhanded heave to the back corner of the end zone – where Fontechia, who had caught a more conventional 20-yard pass on the previous possession to pull Brentwood (9-3) within five points, was all alone to give the Bruins their first lead of the night.
“That was all God,” said Granzow, who had been thought questionable for Friday’s contest after suffering a sprained ligament in his left knee during Brentwood’s opening-round win over Cane Ridge. “All glory to Him. I work very hard, but all the glory goes to Him.”
It’s not the first time Granzow has completed an underhanded pass – or even the first time he’s done so against Independence, having converted a similar play for a touchdown in last season’s 24-7 regular-season victory.
“I just tried to be an athlete and make a play,” Granzow said. “He had my legs wrapped up. I was going down and I tossed it.”
“He’s just the ultimate competitor,” Brentwood coach Ron Crawford said of Granzow, who signed a baseball scholarship with Auburn earlier this week with intentions of joining the Tigers football program as a walk-on. “He may not do things as pretty as other quarterbacks, but he makes plays.”
That wasn’t necessarily the case early on. In fact, it was Independence (7-3) making the plays on both offense and defense – scoring on each of its three first-half possessions and limiting the Bruins to 129 offensive yards and seven first downs before intermission.
Brentwood flipped the script in the second half, though, tightening up after a 42-yard Tre Hartwell run on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage and forcing a punt, then going on a 10-play, 89-yard drive that Granzow capped with a 2-yard touchdown burst.
“That was the first time we’d punted,” Independence coach Scott Blade said. “We’d had a nice run by Tre, had gotten field position, and we got pushed back into punting ground. We had time to potentially seal it and we turned it over, but our defense responded well and we held them to a field goal.
“It comes down to making plays. They stole the momentum in the second half and did what they did. You knew it would come down to the end; it always does. Ultimately they made one more play than we did.”
A Hartwell fumble on fourth-and-1 from the Indy 40 set Brentwood up to take control of the contest, but the hosts only managed to pull within four on a 29-yard Thomas Day field goal 10 seconds into the fourth quarter.
On the visitors’ ensuing possession, Hartwell atoned for his miscue, breaking a 51-yarder off the right side to make it a 28-17 game with 7:39 remaining. Hartwell finished with a game-high 137 rushing yards on 14 carries.
By then, though, Granzow and the Brentwood offense were brimming with confidence. Mixing the read option and short passes to the perimeter, the hosts went 78 yards in three minutes with Fontechia’s 20-yard reception making it a one-possession game.
“We didn’t get to (Granzow) enough,” Blade said. “He was able to dish it out. We had our opportunities to finish the game. We didn’t.”
Independence was unable to pick up a first down on its next possession, and the Bruins took over after a punt at the Indy 47 with 3:29 to play. Granzow either ran or threw on nine of the following 10 snaps, with a questionable personal foul extending the drive and setting the stage for his ‘Houdini’ act.
Granzow finished with 166 passing yards and 108 rushing yards on 18 carries, helping the Bruins avenge a 26-21 homefield loss to Independence in Week 10.
Jaxson Campbell, a Class 6A Mr. Football finalist, threw for 206 yards and a touchdown and rushed for two more scores.
“Hat’s off to them,” Blade said. “They’ve experienced extreme adversity of late. Our thoughts and prayers are with Coach Crawford and his family.
“They played the better game. We wish them well moving on.”
Brentwood will face Franklin – a 31-28 second-round winner at Ravenwood – in Friday’s quarterfinals.
“We competed very hard,” Crawford said. “We played much better in the second half. We didn’t call anything different. We just played different, with a little more urgency. We probably had a little more manageable down and distance (situations), on both sides.”
As the next round looms, Crawford’s mind will also be on his family. Pat Crawford, his mother, has been hospitalized for the past two weeks battling COVID-19 and pneumonia.
“She’s still fighting,” he said. “But we need a miracle.”
Brentwood 31, Independence 28
at James C. Parker Stadium
I 7 14 0 7 – 28
B 7 0 7 17 – 31
|I – Chase Harmon 21 pass from Jaxson Campbell (7:09), Sam Henke kick|
|B – Cade Granzow 1 run (0:52), Thomas Day kick|
|I – Campbell 3 run (4:13), Henke kick|
|I – Campbell 4 run (0:09), Henke kick|
|B – Granzow 2 run (6:44), Day kick|
|B – Day 29 field goal (11:50)|
|I – Tre Hartwell 51 run (7:39), Henke kick|
|B – Luke Fontechia 20 pass from Granzow (4:37), pass failed|
|B – Fontechia 4 pass from Granzow (0:18), Aaron Walton pass from Granzow|
|Independence – Jaxson Campbell 14-22, Tre Hartwell 14-137, Ethan Pickering 1-0|
|Brentwood – Cade Granzow 18-108, Scott Collins 6-60, Luke Walters 4-25, Walker Merrill 2-3|
|Independence – Jaxson Campbell 18-27-0, 206|
|Brentwood – Cade Granzow 21-33-0, 166|
|Independence – Ty Lockwood 11-140, Brigham Morrical 2-13, Calvin Wilson 2-14, Tre Hartwell 1-5, Tyler Kondra 1-13, Chase Harmon 1-21|
|Brentwood – Luke Fontechia 4-53, Scott Collins 6-43, Aaron Walton 5-44, Luke Walters 1-4, Walker Merrill 5-22|