Brentwood football was without its matriarch for Friday’s TSSAA Class 6A quarterfinal game.
Pat Crawford, the mother of head coach Ron Crawford and wife of assistant coach Tom Crawford, died Tuesday evening after battling COVID-19 and pneumonia. She was 80.
Brentwood players released blue and gold balloons into the sky after a moment of silence before kickoff.
Hundreds of fans donned "Win for Pat" t-shirts, and that’s exactly what the Bruins did.
Brentwood routed rival Franklin 55-34 at James C. Parker Stadium to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2016.
“We wanted to win the football game more than anything,” Ron Crawford said. “I appreciate the way people have done things for us and poured into us. They’ve made us feel special during a tough time.
“It’s emotional. I’m full of sadness, sorrow and heartbreak. But I’m also full of gratitude and understand how many blessings I’ve been given in my life.”
Brentwood seniors Cade Granzow and John Howse IV said they were glad to give their coach a joyful moment amid the sadness.
“Coach Crawford has had our backs for all four years of high school,” Howse said. “For us to get this win for him and his family is definitely something special. The whole community and team came together as one and got the job done.”
Added Granzow: “I love Coach Crawford. We all care about him and we’re all here for him. It means a lot that we got this win.”
Granzow was involved every time Brentwood (10-3) found the end zone. The quarterback rushed for 93 yards and five scores while throwing for 231 yards and two more touchdowns on 20-of-28 passing.
Both touchdown passes went to junior receiver Aaron Walton, who led the Bruins with 106 yards on six receptions. The first was a 33-yard deep ball from Granzow that gave Brentwood a 24-17 lead just 43 seconds before halftime.
“He’s always led the team in a good way, and he’s a good runner,” Howse said of Granzow. “Every time he’s got the ball in his hands, I know he’s going to do something with it.”
Brentwood also got a boost from wide receiver and Tennessee commitment Walker Merrill, who battled through a nagging hamstring injury to catch 10 passes for 102 yards.
Franklin QB Connor Beavon gave the Brentwood secondary fits, especially in the first half. The senior totaled 465 yards and four touchdowns on 29-of-47 passing. Classmate Taylor Spierto led all receivers with 246 yards on 11 receptions, including a pair of 80-yard touchdowns.
However, Beavon also threw two interceptions – including one to Howse that led to a Brentwood field goal early in the third quarter – and didn’t get much help from the Admirals defense, which allowed more points than it had in any game this season.
“Thirty-four points should win most ballgames. We can’t give up 55 points and beat anybody,” Franklin coach Donnie Webb said. “But Connor has matured into a (good) quarterback. It’s a shame that it’s a COVID year, because if he had gone to (recruiting) camps, there would be college coaches all over him.”
Brentwood pulled away from Franklin (7-6) in the second half. Three of Granzow’s rushing scores came during a nine-minute span from midway through the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth. That helped him surpass 100 total touchdown for his career.
With the victory, the Bruins finally shook their quarterfinal woes. Ravenwood beat Brentwood at this stage in 2018 and 2019.
“Our expectations are high because we’ve been here,” Crawford said. “To be able to win three straight region championships and get to the semis this year – what a big step for our players.”
But the Bruins still have bigger goals to reach. Granzow said the senior class is determined to advance to the Class 6A BlueCross Bowl in Cookeville.
To get there, Brentwood must first win at Bartlett (8-1) next Friday, Nov. 27.
“It takes one game at a time but having that goal and everybody being on the same page of wanting to win the state championship is big,” Granzow said.