By Frank Gorey
Ashburn (September 20, 2016) – What a difference a year makes. It was only last September when Broad Run High School then-junior running back Meech Hembry and his offensive teammates stormed into Centreville High School’s back yard and scorched them for 253 yards rushing and five touchdowns in a 56-21 rout. In September 2016, however, it was the Wildcats turn as they came to Ashburn to repay the favor, rallying for a hard-fought 21-9 victory over the Spartans.
Things started out well for the Spartans as Broad Run senior linebacker Sequan Canales – in his first play back from an injury sustained on opening night – was able to recover a Wildcat fumble at the Centreville 22-yard line.
It quickly became apparent, however, that Centreville was going to do all that they could to keep Broad Run from running wild up the middle, as three straight attempts by Hembry yielded only three yards. An interception in the end zone by the Wildcats on 4th-and-7 would end the Spartans’ first threat.
Following a Centreville punt – with the Wildcats still determined to hold Hembry in check – it was Broad Run senior quarterback Ryan Braithwaite who looked to have the first touchdown of the night, as he ran in untouched on 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line. It was not to be, however, as a holding call pushed the ball back to the 18. The Spartans would have to settle for a 30-yard field goal by junior kicker Atilla Buri and a 3-0 lead as the first quarter came to an end.
Centreville converted two big fourth-down conversions on their next series, aided by a questionable roughing call on Wildcat quarterback Jameel Siler – who threw one up for grabs while scrambling out of the pocket. Siler later found wide receiver Isaiah Culver open in the end zone for a 13-yard strike and the Wildcats went in at halftime with a 7-3 lead.
The Spartans were able to find more running room to open the second half, mixing dives by Hembry with keepers by Braithwaite. On 4th-and-10 from the Centreville 25-yard line, Braithwaite found a lane, but was tackled just short of the first down and the Wildcats took over.
By this time, it became apparent that Broad Run senior defensive lineman Erik Davenport, senior linebacker Brandon Gonzalez and sophomore linebacker John Birchmeier were too much to handle for the Wildcats up front. Following a negative yardage possession, the Wildcats were forced to punt with 3:29 left in the third quarter, and the short kick gave the Spartans terrific field possession on the Centreville 40-yard line.
The Spartans wasted no time, as head coach Matt Griffis took advantage of the Wildcats’ keying on Hembry. The senior took a pitch on first down, rolled to his left, and lofted the ball deep to senior running back Corey Phillips in the end zone. The extra point was blocked but with less than 15 minutes remaining, the Spartans reclaimed the lead, 9-7.
Still unable to muster anything with their running game, the Wildcats turned to Siler. The senior quarterback hit a beautifully executed screen pass to running back Mark Brown for a 45-yard gain, down to the Spartan 13-yard line. Following a sack and a delay of game, the Wildcats were faced with a 3rd-and-15. This time Siler found his tight end open in the end zone, as he hit Kobie Turner for the touchdown and a 14-9 lead as the third quarter came to an end.
By this time, Hembry – 27 carries for 133 yards – was finding more room to run. The Spartans drove the ball down to the Centreville 35-yard line, but the Wildcats recovered a Spartan fumble . Siler’s 43-yard strike to Culver on first down would prove to be the clincher, as the Wildcats held on 21-9.
The Spartans find themselves at a crossroads at this point in the season as they fall to 2-2, but all of that can change this week as Broad Run and Briar Woods High Schools are Going Gold in the fight against Childhood Cancer.
Come help fight childhood cancer at the Battle for a Better Cause when the Spartans and Falcons football teams play on September 23 at 7 p.m. at Broad Run High School in Ashburn. All funds from the sale of “Battle for a Better Cause” t-shirts and all donations will be given to The Truth 365 and used for research.
Please come support this cause so that we can aid in the fight against childhood cancer.