Broad Run remains perfect after yet another hotly contested Spartans-Falcons showdown.
Final score –
Broad Run Spartans (5-0) 7 3 7 14 = 31
Briar Woods Falcons (1-4) 0 10 0 14 = 24
1 / 3:02 – Broad Run TD (Kyle Brickerd 1-yd run; Will Sherman kick)
2 / 8:20 – Briar Woods TD (Bradley Block 40-yd run; Eddie Moreno kick)
2 / 4:59 – Broad Run FG (Will Sherman 29-yd kick)
2 / 0:09 – Briar Woods FG (Eddie Moreno 38-yd kick)
3 / 9:07 – Broad Run TD (Kyle Brickerd 26-yd pass to Clyde Bryson; Will Sherman kick)
4 / 11:56 – Briar Woods TD (Takiyul Johnson 2-yd run; Eddie Moreno kick)
4 / 8:28 – Broad Run TD (Meech Hembry 4-yd run; Will Sherman kick)
4 / 5:05 – Broad Run TD (Meech Hembry 56-yd run; Will Sherman kick)
4 / 2:21 – Briar Woods TD (De’Andre Thomas 1-yd run; Eddie Moreno kick)
Briar Woods High School, Brambleton, Va. (September 25, 2015) — So close.
That’s what it just about always is when the Broad Run Spartans engage in a neighborhood tussle with the Briar Woods Falcons. Whether it’s a narrow-escape, winner-take-all post-season matchup or a back-and-forth regular-season Potomac District battle, whenever the Spartans’ swords clash with the Falcons’ talons, both sides come out bloodied and bruised – literally, if not just allegorically.
Under overcast autumn-like skies last Friday – in, as Briar Woods public address announcer Jay Whitehead booms, “beautiful downtown Brambleton” – the Falcons and the Spartans staged the latest episode in this all-Ashburn grudge-match series…and it was a close one.
“Two good programs, two great ballclubs,” said Broad Run head coach Matt Griffis. “Every time we play them, it’s a great ballgame.”
So very close. See the stats to see the similarities: Broad Run 328 yards of offense, 181 on the ground; Briar Woods 312 yards of offense, 179 on the ground.
Each kicker (Broad Run senior Will Sherman and Briar Woods sophomore Eddie Moreno) used his strong right leg to bang through long field goals.
Each defense produced a handful of tackles for loss (five by the Falcons, seven by the Spartans), but each quarterback (De’Andre Thomas of Briar Woods and Broad Run’s Kyle Brickerd) completed greater than half his pass tries.
Each side was hit with eight penalty flags, and each saw a star player commit an egregious turnover deep in his team’s own territory.
Plus, the dang thing was tied on three separate occasions (7-7, 10-10, 17-17) – four, if you count 0-0…which is what the game was for the first nine game-minutes.
That’s when Broad Run broke the plane first. On fourth down, Brickerd wormed and squirmed in from short yardage out to conclude an 81-yard, seven-minute drive that featured two third-down conversions.
Brickerd, who did not complete a pass in the Spartans’ 56-21 dismantling of Centreville the previous Friday, displayed zip and accuracy in leading his squad down the field. The junior took advantage of a big target in 6-foot-3 wideout Jaleel Robinson for early yardage chunks.
“Our quarterback made some key throws and our o-line did a great job,” Griffis said.
Robinson led with four receptions, three of which went for first downs.
“We have a lot of trust in our linemen to do their job and push through,” Robinson said. “The boys on our outside are tremendous. We got two big targets, me and [6-foot-2] Chris Moore. We’re just ready whenever.”
In the never-ending tit-for-tat between these two programs, Briar Woods came back at their rivals with nearly the same sort of drive. Thomas pushed the Falcons’ offensive line forward for a fourth-down conversion, then Takiyul “TK” Johnson bullied his way on 3rd-and-3 for another fresh set. Bradley Block capped off a 73-yard, seven-minute possession with a scoring scamper, turning on nice sideline speed once his mates led him to the corner.
An exchange of long field goals put the rivals into their locker rooms with the appropriately even score of 10-10.
Out of the locker room, Brickerd picked up where he left off, conveying remarkable passing touch for a guy known more for flinging lacrosse balls. Helped by an off-sides infraction that made a 4th-and-short too easy, Brickerd lined up at the 26 to survey the Falcon defense. What he saw led him to audible into another play, one in which Clyde Bryson found abundant running room slanting toward the middle. Brickerd lofted it over everyone except the intended target, and Bryson was unfettered in cruising home.
“That was huge,” said Griffis of the TD drive to open the second half. “We’ve been a second-half team all year.”
So, naturally, the Falcons came back. Early in the fourth, Johnson stormed in for the equalizer, set up by a near-miracle of a 3rd-and-long conversion: Issued a poor shotgun snap that immediately broke the planned play, Thomas picked it up and scrambled right. Ben Maffe – a quarterback himself – saw his position-mate in trouble and took off for open space. Thomas saw him and threw it; Maffe saw that and caught it. That crowd-pleasing first down allowed Johnson’s touchdown a few plays later.
On the subsequent possession, Broad Run’s star running back Meech Hembry turned a no-gain rush into a 21-yarder, but the Falcons stiffened in their own territory. Pinned on their 2-yard line, Briar Woods handed off to the 225-pound bowling ball named Johnson in search of workspace.
The senior went a couple yards and tried to stretch for a yard more. The ball came loose; a cadre of Spartans pounced on it. Two plays later, Hembry went in and Broad Run went up.
Hembry tried to return the favor a few minutes later when he tried to catch a punt with his shoulder pad. It didn’t work, but it did set up the Falcons on the Spartans’ 23, thanks to Samari Springs‘ recovery.
Broad Run’s defense, however, pushed Briar Woods’ offense backward, sacking Thomas on third down to give the Falcons’ a 4th-and-24 challenge. Thomas lost his helmet on the play, ruling him out of the next one. Junior backup QB Skyler Springs came in and got sacked, turning it over on downs.
Given a huge reprieve, Hembry took the next play an angry, tackle-busting 56 yards for the game’s longest gain and largest lead. Undaunted, Briar Woods showed quick-strike ability when Thomas found Ryan Rutkowski for a 52-yard field-flipping pass, punctuated by Thomas’ caravan into the end zone one play later.
With the Falcon crowd loud, the home team forced a three-and-punt to get the ball back with 55 seconds left, 78 yards from a possible tie. The last-ditch drive died at midfield, and the Spartans made the short, victorious trip home having put another Battle Of The ‘Burn nail-biter in the books.
“That was a heavyweight fight going back and forth,” Griffis summed up.
Griffis pointed out that Briar Woods’ opponents had compiled a combined 16-1 record going into the evening’s festivities.
“They’re playing good caliber teams and Coach [Charlie] Pierce is a great coach. He’s won a lot of state championships and he knows how to motivate kids,” Griffis said. “We knew this was going to be a street fight.”
The game was not without defensive standouts. Briar Woods was led by Adrian Clayborne‘s five solo tackles and three assists, while Kyle Robey, Riley Garcia and Chris Motley brought down at least six Broad Run ball carriers.
For the Spartans, the senior duo of Brandon Steel and Matt Meier stalwartly manned the defensive middle.
Briar Woods stays home next Friday to welcome the Lee Generals from distant Jonesville, Va., near the Kentucky border. Broad Run enjoys a bye week before heading to Arlington to battle Yorktown in a sixth straight road game, going for 6-0.
“Our kids just have a confidence about them,” Griffis said. “I’m really proud of them.”
It was the closest thing to a home game the Spartans have had yet, what with playing the first seven tilts of the campaign on the road while their new field gets finished. Typical of intra-Ashburn clashes, both sets of stands were filled to overflowing, using noisemakers both artificial and natural, fomenting a tremendous Friday Night Lights atmosphere.
Before the second quarter, Briar Woods honored Joe Breinig, Sr., the Falcons’ first athletic director and a servant of Loudoun prep sports for more than 30 years, to a rousing ovation.
It being Broad Run’s first football game in Ashburn since the sudden and shocking death of beloved Spartan student-athlete Madison Small from bacterial meningitis, the massive assemblage observed a prolonged pre-game moment of silence in her memory. Her father Tim, mother Rachel and brother Tyler were honorary captains of the Spartans football team for the night.
The cheerleaders, student sections and fanbases on both sides were blanketed with white-and-pink #WePlayFor24 t-shirts.
Broad Run stats –
Rushing: Meech Hembry 22-174, 2 TDs; Kyle Brickerd 12-4, 1 TD; Clinton Kumi 1-3; Chris Moore 1-0
Passing: Kyle Brickerd 9 of 16 for 147, 1 TD
Receiving: Jaleel Robinson 4-49; Clyde Bryson 3-36, 1 TD; Meech Hembry 1-51; Chris Moore 1-11
Briar Woods stats –
Rushing: De’Andre Thomas 21-76, 1 TD; Bradley Block 19-70, 1 TD; Takiyul Johnson 9-25, 1 TD; Ben Maffe 2-9; Skyler Springs 1-6; Josh Thomas 2-(-5)
Passing: De’Andre Thomas 12 of 20 for 131
Receiving: Ryan Rutkowski 3-55; Mark Birmingham 3-40; Ben Maffe 4-25; Mekhail White 1-11; Josh Thomas 1-0
Other scores –
Loudoun Valley 26, Dominion 13
Heritage 51, Rock Ridge 27
Freedom 40, Loudoun County 22
John Champe 44, Park View 0
Tuscarora 49, Centreville 42
Potomac Falls 31, Marshall 13
Woodgrove 31, Millbrook 28 (2 OT)
Brentsville 42, Riverside 6
Westfield 28, Stone Bridge 7
VivaLoudoun: We Live For Loudoun™
Written by Jason S Rufner
for Viva Loudoun Media Communications