Ashburn, Va. – In front of the biggest crowd Loudoun has seen all fall, Stone Bridge High School played host to Broad Run High School in what many thought would be the game of the year in Loudoun County high school football.
The game lived up to the hype as the Bulldogs used heavy sets to meticulously run the ball down the field, outlasting a second half effort by the Spartans, 21-13.
“We knew we had to run the ball to shorten the clock,” Stone Bridge junior running back Nick Mell said. “We just needed a few feet every time to move the ball forward to keep going and run the clock down.”
Heading into the fourth quarter with a 21-6 lead, the Stone Bridge offense coughed up a fumble early in the final period which was recovered by Broad Run sophomore linebacker Kesean Dyson and returned eight years for a Spartans touchdown.
With nine minutes to play and just a one score lead, the Bulldogs did what they do best: hand the ball off to Mell in heavy sets for short yardage and three crucial fourth down conversions, before putting the game on ice in a victory formation as the clock struck 0:00.
“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to run the ball for this team,” Mell said. “I’m grateful for everyone who continues to support me.”
Mell got the scoring started late in the first quarter, when he broke free of the stout Broad Run defense and ran 54 yards for the touchdown. He added to the Bulldogs’ lead early in the second half, when he pounded one in from just two yards out.
While the Stone Bridge offense found just enough room to continue moving the ball, it was the defensive matchup that kept both teams in the game.
Broad Run forced and recovered two Stone Bridge fumbles, and the Bulldogs limited the Spartans’ offense to less than a handful of first half first downs. Stone Bridge also did an excellent job containing explosive Broad Run sophomore running back Tim Baldwin.
“I thought we played really well on defense,” Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson said. “Griffis made some nice plays to keep their drives alive. He’s going to do that. But we played good defense all night, and I think that was the difference maker.”
Broad Run sophomore quarterback Mitch Griffis kept multiple Spartan drives alive with his athleticism and vision of the field, never allowing his team to give in.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys for fighting until the very end. We had a chance to win right down to a minute-and-a-half,” Broad Run head coach Matt Griffis said. “Our kids never gave up and kept persevering. Now, we get ready to go onto the next season.”
“It’s all great,” Thompson said. “But now we have to get ready for the next one.”
1Q 3:13 SB Nick Mell 54-yard TD run (Baron PAT)
3Q 11:37 SB Nick Mell 2-yard TD run (Baron PAT)
3Q 5:37 BR Tim Baldwin 14-yard TD run (PAT failed)
3Q 1:22 SB Nick Mell 10-yard TD run (Baron PAT)
4Q 9:03 BR Kesean Dyson 8-yard fumble recovery TD (Buri PAT)