WATERTOWN -- Brunswick football coach Jarrett Shine has long believed his team is capable of competing with the best teams the Erickson League has to offer.

Two close games and one wild win later; it's fair to say the Bruins are right where they belong.

Billy O'Malley went 21-for-41 with 300 yards passing and six total touchdowns -- five passing and one rushing -- as Brunswick survived a shootout with Taft to prevail 55-48 on Saturday afternoon.

"In the five years I've coached this team I've never seen a team with so much heart," Shine said. "We battled; we had two close games and they never gave up. They worked so hard this week and I couldn't be prouder."

After losing in heartbreaking fashion a week ago to Kent, the Bruins (1-1) prevailed courtesy of an excellent second-half performance. Both teams battled back and forth with their dazzling offenses, trading blows for most of the game before Brunswick inched ahead for good in the third quarter.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," O'Malley said. "The coaches told us all week we can do it, that we belong in this league. We showed so much heart. We're a family out there and this is the greatest feeling in the world. I'm speechless."

Trailing 42-34 midway through the third quarter, O'Malley found Malik Wilder for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 25-yard line. After forcing a three-and-out, Henry Taylor caught a 21-yard pass from O'Malley to give Brunswick the lead for good.

"We kept a great balance between running and passing," O'Malley said. "The coaches have really stressed that we have to run the ball to be able to throw it. The offensive line did an unbelievable job of opening holes for everyone. That's why we put up 55 points."

Facing third-and-goal from the 9-yard line leading 48-42 with less than four minutes remaining, the Bruins called a timeout to discuss their options. When play resumed O'Malley found Taylor on a slant pattern for the clinching score.

"We changed the play like two or three times," O'Malley said. "We settled on the slant. (Offensive cooridnator Kevin Decker) just told me to make a play. The offensive line did a great job and (Taylor) made a tremendous play."

Taft (0-2) drove right back down and scored a touchdown to pull within a score, but the Bruins recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock.

Wilder returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown and caught two touchdown passes for the Bruins, who fell to the Rhinos 62-35 a year ago. Brunswick had a massive edge in field position thanks to its special teams, which constantly had long returns and did well on kick coverage. The Bruins didn't commit a single turnover while forcing four of their own.

"We always talk about making an impact on special teams," Shine said. "We even joked about taking one to the house this week. (Wilder) is an excellent return guy as well as (Taylor). That was the difference in the game in my opinion."

Brunswick won despite the efforts of Rhinos' quarterback Quinton Harris, who threw for four touchdown passes and ran for three more. The FBS prospect as a junior, Harris was corralled by the Bruins defense in the second half, holding Taft to just 13 points.

"We made a couple of adjustments (at halftime) and (the defense) continued to fight," Shine said. "We were able to contain (Harris), who was slicing us up in the first half. I met him as a freshman and I knew he was going to be a star. He is a tremendous player."

The defensive star for Brunswick was Duke lacrosse commit Reilly Walsh. The defensive back recorded two sacks, one of which resulted in a fumble and turnover, an interception in the first quarter and a blocked extra point on the Rhino's final score.

"(Walsh) is a very physical defensive player," Shine said. "We move him around a little bit; he's a tremendous player and a fighter. That's what we love about him."

Brunswick 55, Taft 48

BRUNSWICK 14 20 14 7--55

TAFT 13 22 7 6--48

B--Billy O'Malley 5 run (kick)

T--Alex Huard 33 pass Quentin Harris (Huard kick)

T--Huard 39 pass Harris (run failed)

B--Cobb 27 pass O'Malley (kick)

T--Huard 34 pass Harris (Nadir Pearson pass Harris)

B--Malik Wilder 82 kick return (pass failed)

B--Cobb 20 run (kick)

T--Harris 67 run (Huard kick)

B--Wilder 22 pass O'Malley (kick)

T--Harris 3 run (Huard kick)

T--Harris 8 run (Huard kick)

B--Wilder 25 pass O'Malley (kick)

B--Taylor 21 pass O'Malley (kick)

B--Taylor 9 pass O'Malley (kick)

T--Mick Pernell 15 pass Harris (kick blocked)

Records: Brunswick 1-1; Taft 0-2.