By Frank Gorey
Ashburn (September 28, 2016) – They are separated by four short miles. Many found themselves on opposite sides of the line against former teammates from their time in Ashburn Youth Football.
Between the two, the schools have combined for five state championships over the past eight years, and yet, coming into their clash on September 23, Broad Run High School and Briar Woods High School were a combined 3-5 on the young season, with each team desperate for a win. After the Spartans took a 15-point lead into the half, they traded scores with the Falcons in the second half to earn the rivalry-win, 36-21.
For the second consecutive week, it was the Spartans’ special teams that came up with a huge turnover on the game’s first play. Broad Run junior receiver Ibn Earl not only made an open field tackle on the kickoff, but forced a fumble and then pounced on it.
There was little doubt about what the Spartans would do given this early opportunity, as they handed off to senior running back Meech Hembry for three consecutive plays. Hembry soon powered his way into the end zone, covering 23 yards on those three carries. A botched extra point left the Spartans with a 6-0 lead only 64 seconds into the game.
If the Spartans thought that things would come easy to them on this night, they were mistaken, as the Falcons quickly answered. Briar Woods senior quarterback Skyler Springs found 6-foot-5 senior wide receiver Nik Schuder streaking down the left sideline for a 72-yard gain. Junior tailback Julian Posas then punched it in from five yards out and just like that, the Falcons took a 7-6 lead.
Down 1-point with just over three minutes left in the first quarter, Hembry again found the end zone by way of a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Spartans a 6-point lead.
But things seemed to fall apart on Broad Run’s next possession.
Broad Run senior quarterback Ryan Braithwaite went on a 57-yard touchdown run as the first quarter expired, but the first-year starter left the game following that play due to an injury.
The Broad Run coaching staff has preached a “next man up” philosophy throughout the season, and at no time would this become more apparent than on this night. With senior center Connor Gorey out with an injury and Braithwaite similarly heading to the sidelines, junior center Javier Varela and freshman quarterback Mitch Griffis had to step up to fill the void.
Early in the second quarter, following a stop by their defense, the Spartans took over deep in their own territory and methodically drove down the field, taking almost the entire second quarter in doing so. Much of the drive consisted of Griffis taking the snap from Varela and handing off to Hembry. Briar Woods knew full well what was coming, but was powerless to stop it. The drive culminated in a 30-yard field goal by Broad Run junior kicker Atilla Buri, giving the Spartans a 22-7 halftime lead.
Rivalry games are special for a reason, and the Falcons came out flying to begin the third quarter. Springs would find senior receiver Ben Maffe open for a 35-yard touchdown, and the Falcons were right back in it, 22-14, with more than ten minutes left in the third quarter.
However, following yet another soul-crushing drive by the Spartans, Hembry ran it in from five yards out for his third touchdown of the night and the Spartans found themselves up 29-14 as the third quarter came to a close.
Trailing by 15, Briar Woods head coach Charlie Pierce knew that his team needed a touchdown on their next possession, and two fourth-down conversions later, the Falcons had done just that.
On 4th-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Maffe completed a jump pass to perfection, finding senior and fellow team captain Riley Garcia wide open in the end zone. Once again, the Falcons had trimmed the lead to 8 with more than eight minutes remaining, 29-21.
However, Hembry proved to be too much for the Falcons’ defense to handle as he would get the ball on nine of the next ten plays for the Spartans before capping off his night with his fourth rushing touchdown, this one from 20 yards out.
The 2015 VHSL 5A all-state running back would end up rushing for 254 yards on the night, outgaining the entire Falcon offense, which netted 249 yards. Hembry also went over the 1,000-yard milestone on the season, giving him an area-leading 1,069 yards rushing after just five games.
Although the VHSL 5A North No. 17 Falcons fell to 1-4 with the loss, they can right their ship when they travel to Robert E. Lee on September 30.
The No. 9 Spartans (3-2) will enjoy their bye week before hosting Yorktown on October 7.
1Q 10:56 BR Meech Hembry 2-yard TD run (PAT failed)
1Q 8:46 BW Julian Posas 5-yard TD run (Moreno PAT)
1Q 3:11 BR Meech Hembry 5-yard TD run (Buri PAT)
1Q 0:00 BR Ryan Braithwaite 57-yard TD run (PAT failed)
2Q 0:22 BR Atilla Buri 29-yard FG
3Q 10:03 BW Skyler Springs to Ben Maffe 35-yard TD pass (Moreno PAT)
3Q 1:45 BR Meech Hembry 5-yard TD run (Buri PAT)
4Q 8:52 BW Ben Maffe to Riley Garcia 5-yard TD pass (Moreno PAT)
4Q 3:05 BR Meech Hembry 20-yard TD run (Buri PAT)