By Paul Jones/Special to the Journal
BRUCE – After several close calls to open the season, Bruce left nothing to chance Friday night against Nettleton. The host Trojans rolled to a 33-6 halftime advantage and never looked back en route to a 43-13 victory.
Bruce (2-4) used another solid outing by tailback Zay Armstrong and a big-play defense to avenge last year’s loss to Nettleton (3-3).
“It felt so good because I wasn’t expecting that,” said Bruce head coach James Ray. “Nettleton is a good team and I wasn’t expecting us to win (by that margin). Coming off some tough losses and to respond like this, it was a good boost for us and a good step forward going into district.”
With only three seniors on the roster, Ray thought his young squad rebounded well from those early narrow losses.
Armstrong finished with 16 carries for 152 yards and one touchdown. Bruce also balanced out the offense with a solid passing game. Sophomore receiver Shaq Bush hauled in three touchdown passes from fellow classmate and Trojans’ quarterback Davis Brown. Bush also had one of Bruce’s three interceptions on the night.
“This one felt real good,” said Armstrong. “We worked hard at practice and we’ve kept fighting even through the tough losses. It’s good to get this second win and go into district next week with a positive feeling.”
The Trojans were just as dominant on defense. In the first half alone Bruce collected three interceptions, one fumble recovery and sacked Nettleton freshman quarterback Dakota Gruber four times.
One of those interceptions was a pick-six by Bruce junior Reed Gregory, who also had a rushing touchdown in the first half.
“Defense probably played as good as they have in three years,” said Ray. “We had three interceptions and they always kept us in good field position. So we expect a lot from our defense from now on.”
Bruce’s defense also limited Nettleton junior tailback Corbin White for much of the night. White had 22 carries for 98 yards and one touchdown but most of his yardage came the outcome had been decided.
White also had a 66-yard touchdown grab for the Tigers’ lone points of the first half.