Peaking at the right time, the now-healthy Bulldogs are off the mend and on a roll.
Final score –
Stone Bridge Bulldogs (8-4) 7 9 13 6 35
Broad Run Spartans (8-4) 3 0 0 7 10
1 / 11:23 – Stone Bridge TD (Joshua Breece 25-yd run; Tyler Alcorn kick)
1 / 6:35 – Broad Run FG (Will Sherman 32-yd kick)
2 / 11:54 – Stone Bridge TD (Chase Ridley 3-yd run; kick missed)
2 / 9:12 – Stone Bridge FG (Tyler Alcorn 35-yd kick)
3 / 7:20 – Stone Bridge TD (Joe Thompson 2-yd run; 2-pt run failed)
3 / 2:10 – Stone Bridge TD (Joshua Breece 1-yd run; Tyler Alcorn kick)
4 / 8:19 – Stone Bridge TD (Dewayne Winston 2-yd run; kick missed)
4 / 5:49 – Broad Run TD (Kyle Brickerd 20-yd pass to Jaleel Robinson; Will Sherman kick)
Broad Run High School, Ashburn, Va. (November 20, 2015) — From the first play of the game, the Bulldogs were off and running. The second play, too.
Operating out of their classic single-wing formation, Stone Bridge quarterback Joe Thompson galloped 40 yards on the region quarterfinal’s initial snap. A few short seconds later, running back Joshua Breece was on the loose, speeding around the right edge and scampering down the sideline for a 25-yard touchdown.
The crowd, which packed both sides of Broad Run’s L.F. Jennings Stadium for this playoff edition of the Battle Of The ‘Burn, suddenly got very loud on one side. That’s how the Region 5A North quarterfinal began between the Bulldogs of Stone Bridge and the crosstown Spartans of Broad Run.
For the most part, that’s how it continued, too. The Bulldogs kept up the pressure on their higher-seeded foes, putting up points on multiple drives in both the second and third stanzas – while also holding the Spartans scoreless for three full quarters. In a one-sided affair reminiscent of the teams’ meeting in the regular season, the Stone Bridge advantage grew to 35-3 by the middle stages of the fourth quarter.
“We haven’t been healthy all year. We’re just now starting to get healthy,” said Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson. “The guys are starting to believe, and things are starting to roll. I don’t know what it’s going to lead to, but we are playing better than we were in the middle of the season.”
His quarterback/son Joe is one of those freshly healthy Bulldogs. With rushes for 40, 23, 10, 60 and 16 yards, the younger Thompson showed little evidence of the ankle injury that kept him limited or unavailable for several weeks down the season’s stretch.
“We felt like we could throw the football, but we didn’t want to get into a run-and-shoot with them, because we thought that would be a mistake,” the coach said. “We wanted to eat clock and run the ball, and he gives us another option besides Josh. A good defensive coordinator like [Broad Run’s] Jerry Gordon, they’re going to shut down your main running back. So we knew Joe would be a pivotal guy in the run game.”
The Bulldogs’ head man expressed a note of surprise at the game’s point spread, it being much wider than he’d anticipated. But he owes the convincing nature of the final score to his defense, which Broad Run into three punts, two turnovers on downs, a pair of interceptions and a fumble.
That defense also kept Broad Run’s hard-running Meech Hembry to 89 rush yards, well below the junior’s game average of 125.3.
“We kept everything in front and didn’t allow any big plays,” Thompson said. “The big thing for us was not to allow any big pass plays. Meech is a great running back and he’s going to get his. We just didn’t want anyone else to make a big play.”
Given the difficult task of helping lock down Broad Run’s tall, speedy wideouts Jaleel Robinson and Chris Moore, Stone Bridge senior cornerback Paul Ciavarro was credited with three breakups of deep passes, one in the end zone. Fellow upperclassmen Nick McIntyre and Jackson Brown each hauled in a second-half interception of Spartan QB Kyle Brickerd. Senior linebacker Matt Fialdini was in on several run-halting tackles.
“The big thing we worked on in practice was hustling to the ball, 11 men to the ball, every time,” said Ciavarro. “[Secondary] coach [Billy] Rice really made us focus on getting into the body of the receivers, not letting them get into us. We just watched their hips and played our technique.”
After Breece got things going with his early TD, the Spartans displayed a little offense of their own. From their own 40, they marched downfield with four first downs, setting up Will Sherman‘s field goal.
But those three points would be all Broad Run had until the second half of the fourth quarter.
Meantime, the constantly moving, shifting, spinning, whirling offense of the Bulldogs kept the Spartan defenders back on their heels. Chase Ridley slithered in from a few yards out for a score. Kicker Tyler Alcorn turned a recovered fumble into three points, making the Bulldogs’ advantage 13 into halftime.
Out of halftime, Thompson and his offensive line pushed their way in for another tally, earning points after McIntyre’s pick set them up with a short field. Five minutes later, Breece plunged into paydirt; six minutes thereafter, senior Dewayne Winston did the same, converting a fourth down into a touchdown.
The Spartans notched their sole TD in the fourth, executing a nice 71-yard drive that ended with Brickerd’s chuck to the deep corner of the end zone where Robinson corralled it.
That would be the last affirmative action of the season for the Spartans, who concluded a campaign which began 6-0 and finished with losses in four of their last six. Brickerd tossed his 16th TD pass, while Jaleel Robinson caught his ninth.
But it is the surging Bulldogs who get to keep going, as they will travel to Spotsylvania for a test against top-seeded, undefeated Massaponax in the region semifinal.
Stone Bridge has ruined another’s perfection before, when they upended the 6-0 Spartans with a convincing win Oct. 16. With a current four-game win streak, with a healthy starting quarterback and with all cylinders seeming to click at just the right time, Stone Bridge is a dangerous team in the familiar surrounds of the deep playoffs.
How far will these Bulldogs run?
The Few, The Proud
The pre-game national anthem put the spotlight on Broad Run senior WR/DB Atiim Pittman, who was given the honor of holding the stars-and-stripes during the Star-Spangled Banner.
Pittman received a rousing, heartfelt ovation from all in attendance when it was announced that he had signed on with the United States Marine Corps, and would begin serving his country soon after his impending graduation from Broad Run High School.
Stone Bridge stats –
Rushing: Joe Thompson 16-154, 1 TD; Joshua Breece 16-53, 2 TDs; Chase Ridley 5-16, 1 TD; Dewayne Winston 8-13, 1 TD
Passing: Joe Thompson 2 of 6 for 39
Receiving: Brett Smedley 1-37; Chase Ridley 1-2
Broad Run stats –
Rushing: Meech Hembry 22-89; Kyle Brickerd 12-56
Passing: Kyle Brickerd 8 of 23 for 68, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Receiving: Jaleel Robinson 2-24, 1 TD; Meech Hembry 2-21; Chris Moore 2-20; Clyde Bryson 1-3
Other scores (regional quarterfinals) –
John Champe 16, George Washington-Danville 13
Tuscarora 42, Atlee 27
Woodgrove 35, Sherando 21
Massaponax 28, Potomac Falls 7
Next round (regional semifinals) –
Salem at John Champe
North Stafford at Tuscarora
Woodgrove at Jefferson Forest
Stone Bridge at Massaponax
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications