Final score –
Broad Run Spartans (3-1) 0 6 3 0 9
Stone Bridge Bulldogs (2-1) 10 0 7 0 17
1 / 9:37 – Stone Bridge TD (Collin Buckley 6-yd run; Brett Smedley kick)
1 / 2:00 – Stone Bridge FG (Brett Smedley 38-yd kick)
2 / 9:36 – Broad Run FG (Sam Sergi 32-yd kick)
2 / 0:02 – Broad Run FG (Sam Sergi 20-yd kick)
3 / 10:11 – Broad Run FG (Sam Sergi 32-yd kick)
3 / 2:16 – Stone Bridge TD (Joe Thompson 45-yd pass to Chance Frye, Brett Smedley kick)
Stone Bridge High School, Ashburn, Va. (September 19, 2014) — Kickoff occurred at 7:30 p.m., right on schedule, but the huge game between football powerhouses Stone Bridge High School and Broad Run High School – Ashburn rivals 2.7 miles apart, taking part in the Battle Of The ‘Burn – didn’t really begin until the third quarter was nearly done, when the difference on the scoreboard was merely one.
That’s when Bulldog junior quarterback Joe Thompson took the snap, faked an inside dive, stepped back, looked up and threw deep. The ball sailed beautifully, in perfect spiral toward the right sideline, and dropped directly into the clutches of senior wideout Chance Frye as he galloped with unbroken stride into the end zone.
It would turn out to be the single play that made the greatest difference in an otherwise fairly even tilt.
“All game we were pounding the ball with our single wing, baiting their safeties and corners,” the Stone Bridge quarterback said. “Once [offensive playcaller] Coach [Wayne] Todd saw they were stacking the box, he called that play. We were fortunate enough to complete the pass for the touchdown.”
That 45-yard strike finished a six-play, 80-yard drive that came on the heels of a critical missed field goal by Broad Run’s usually automatic Sam Sergi. The senior kicker had boomed through three previous three-pointers, but he sliced a 39-yarder to the right which would have given the Spartans a late third-quarter lead.
The Bulldogs’ defense then held off the Spartans, returning the ball to its offense as the fourth quarter began. Stone Bridge proceeded to ride the horse that is senior fullback Collin Buckley to a lengthy 12-play possession that soaked up more than half the time in the final frame.
“He’s our bread and butter. He’s the guy we’re gonna give the football to,” said Bulldogs head coach Mickey Thompson of Buckley, who took 27 handoffs, almost exactly half of Stone Bridge’s snaps. “He’s a hard-nosed runner.”
As is to be expected in a rivalry showdown, the team that was down was not quite yet out. The Spartans’ hopes surged when they blocked Brett Smedley’s try for a 25-yard field goal that would have salted the game away.
Starting on their own 18-yard line as the minutes dwindled, Broad Run senior quarterback Brady Reitzel moved his team quickly down the field with a 32-yard reception to Tyriek King and a 15-yard run by himself. Less than a minute remained.
Deep in Stone Bridge territory, Reitzel took the shotgun, dropped back and fired left. Two Spartans were there, joined by one Bulldog — and it was the Bulldog, in the person of senior cornerback Corey Wells, who stepped in and caught it.
“They had their big man on the outside and their speedy guy on the inside. They’d been throwing hitches so I just read the play, and the quarterback basically threw me the ball,” said Wells, whose interception elicited the biggest cheer from a very big game. “We knew we were playing our rivals, and we knew we lost to them in the playoffs, so we knew we had to come out and have energy every single play.”
During the Bulldogs’ practice for Broad Run week, there was a little extra energy going around. After years of beating, and once in a while beating up, on their neighborhood rivals, it was the Spartans who vanquished the Bulldogs last year when it hurt the most — in the postseason.
On an overcast Friday evening typically wild for the Battle Of The ‘Burn, before an overflow crowd estimated by Stone Bridge athletic director Dave Hembach at some 5,000, the Bulldogs grabbed the mantle right back from the Spartans.
“All week, practice has been better. It really paid off,” Joe Thompson said. “It’s Broad Run week. It was a different atmosphere and focus in practice.”
As Friday afternoon turned into Friday night, the players were not the only ones feeling that big-game vibe. All along Claiborne Parkway, students and fans clad in their school’s colors were seen marching toward Bulldog Stadium. T-shirts — some maroon, some dark blue — abounded with “Battle Of The ‘Burn” emblazoned on them. Parking lots were jammed 90 minutes prior to the game. Long before kickoff, an air of anticipation was palpable, electricity ringing through the late summer evening.
Then, just as darkness fell, the battle began.
The home team fired the first salvo. On the contest’s initial possession, Frye came around on an inside handoff and got loose for a 61-yard gain, setting up Buckley’s short run around the right edge for the home team’s quick lead.
That lead was extended later in the first when a 23-yard catch by Frye and a 15-yard run by Buckley set up a Smedley field goal.
The two defenses took over for the game’s middle portion, disallowing much in the way of big plays. Broad Run sacked Thompson three times, the same number of sacks that Stone Bridge had on Reitzel. Chuck Davis was the Spartans’ leading tackler with 7.5 haul-downs, while Tanner Karafa led all tacklers with 8.5.
The Bulldogs quarterback knew he had his offensive line to thank for the team’s offensive performance.
“Awesome effort tonight. I love my offensive line,” Joe Thompson said. “I’ll have to buy them all dinner.”
Both offenses ran up identical totals of 327 yards — Broad Run on 54 plays, Stone Bridge on 55. Both — as expected in a rivalry match — were heavily penalized, nearly splitting 17 flags. Broad Run was hit with four personal fouls, while Stone Bridge was whistled for two and an unsportsmanlike conduct.
But the turnover battle was decisive in favor of the home team. The visiting Spartans were hurt by three turnovers, two on lost fumbles. The Bulldogs recovered their only fumble and did not surrender the ball once.
The Battle Of The ‘Burn was an entertaining affair, if not always pretty.
“Our kickoff team has to get better. We gave up field position tonight,” said Mickey Thompson, looking at areas in need of improvement, as coaches do. “But that was the game, I thought. We’d give up great feld position, but then we’d limit them in the red zone.”
Last year, Stone Bridge upended Broad Run in the regular season, only to have that favor returned in
the postseason. It’s not outlandish to ponder that the two will meet again before 2014 is done, for the next skirmish in the Battle Of The ‘Burn.
“It’s not what’s happening now; it’s where you finish,” the Bulldogs’ veteran coach pointed out. “We have a sour taste about where we finished last year. We have a long way to get back to a state-level team, but this is a nice step for us.”
Stone Bridge stats –
Rushing: Collin Buckley 27-124, 1 TD; Chance Frye 12-117; Joe Thompson 10-(-2)
Passing: Joe Thompson 4 of 9 for 80, 1 TD
Receiving: Chance Frye 4-80, 1 TD
Broad Run stats –
Rushing: Jashawn Banks 12-62; Brady Reitzel 13-8; Willie Smallwood 4-33; Alex Galloway 1-4; Chuck Davis 1-2
Passing: Brady Reitzel 15 of 22 for 197, 1 INT
Receiving: Chuck Davis 5-62; Jaleel Robinson 3-51; Tyriek King 3-41; Willie Smallwood 2-10; Marcel Mingo 1-29; Chris Moore 1-4
Other scores –
Loudoun County 49, Park View 6 (Thursday)
Briar Woods 23, North Stafford 22
Freedom 30, Marshall 27
Loudoun Valley 35, Potomac Falls 22
Tuscarora 40, Martinsburg 21
Woodgrove 32, John Champe 14
Dominion 31, Heritage 13
Off-weeks for: Rock Ridge JV
Written by Jason S. Rufner