Ashburn, Va. — When the Stone Bridge High School football team made the trip across Ashburn to rival Broad Run High School on November 1, bragging rights were the last thing the teams had on their minds.
The winner of the Battle of the Burn would not only earn bragging rights, but they’d also claim the Potomac District title and the No. 1 seed in the VHSL Region 5C.
“We set a goal, and we just come out and play the best we play, no matter who we play,” Broad Run junior running back Tim Baldwin said. “Stone Bridge just happened to be on the schedule.”
With that in mind, the Spartans’ defense did what they’ve done all season: they gave Baldwin, senior quarterback Mitch Griffis and the rest of the Broad Run offense a chance.
The Spartans took advantage of the opportunity, scoring four touchdowns, while dispatching the Bulldogs, 26-20.
“We’ve been losing to Stone Bridge, and everybody knows that,” Baldwin said. “We wanted to change the culture.”
That change didn’t come freely for the Spartans, as they faced challenges throughout the first half.
On the game’s opening drive, Stone Bridge found themselves in business at the Broad Run 20 yard line with a new set of downs. But a hold turned that 1st-and-10 into a 1st-and-23. Then Broad Run sacked Stone Bridge senior quarterback Mason Tatum for an 8-yard loss.
However, on the very next play, Stone Bridge junior running back Zakias Moore broke free up the middle, rumbling 41 yards for a touchdown.
After Griffis answered late in the first quarter with a touchdown run of his own, Broad Run once again faced some adversity when the junior shotcaller had a pass tipped and intercepted by Stone Bridge sophomore linebacker Skylar Martin, who returned the interception 28 yards for a touchdown.
Despite throwing the pick-six, Griffis stayed positive and bounced right back. After moving his team downfield, the Spartans faced a 4th-and-6 from the 7 yard line, midway thought the second quarter. There was never a doubt for Griffis as he connected with junior receiver Romy Miner in the back of the end zone to even the score out at 14-14.
Broad Run received the second half kickoff, and the Spartans’ offense was back in business. Griffis orchestrated a meticulous drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Luke Lindenfeldar, as Broad Run finally captured the lead.
From there, the Spartans turned things over to their stout defense, which was allowing less than four points per game coming into the game.
On the ensuing drive, Broad Run came up with its first of two big, fourth-down stops.
“Our guys are great tacklers,” Broad Run head coach Matt Griffis said. “They love perfecting their craft and things that make you fundamentally sound. They play really hard for each other.”
And the Spartans’ defense wasn’t done just yet. Leading by six points with about four minutes left, Broad Run was forced to punt, giving Stone Bridge the ball at the Spartans’ 36 yard line.
With about two minutes left, the Bulldogs faced a 4th-and-6 from the Broad Run 17. Broad Run dialed up a blitz off the edge with Baldwin, who forced Tatum to dump the ball off to junior running back Jared Cole. With about nine yards to go, Cole was met by the stonewall that is the Broad Run defense, sealing the win for the Spartans.
“We’re excited. Our kids are happy. They’ve been working really hard for this opportunity,” Coach Griffis said. “To put yourself in a position [in Week 11]to be playing for the district title and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs and accomplishing it against a really good ball club, that’s a great feeling for our kids.”
For Broad Run, the win wrapped up their perfect regular season, at least in their minds. The Spartans forfeited their Week 1 game against Potomac Falls after self-reporting a clerical error that led to an ineligible player playing, albeit limited minutes.
“I’m not counting the first game as a loss. We did the right thing. I think some people get challenged with doing the right things, whether it’s going to cost your team a win or a loss. We have lessons we have to teach these kids in the game of football,” Coach Griffis said. “It’s a 10-0 season because that loss wasn’t a loss. We’ll let the Virginia High School League have it, but in our minds, we’re 9-1. W-O-N.”
1Q 8:29 SB Zakias Moore 41-yard TD run (Baron PAT)
1Q 0:38 BR Mitch Griffis 24-yard TD run (Young PAT)
2Q 9:59 SB Skylar Martin 28-yard interception return TD (Baron PAT)
2Q 5:50 BR Mitch Griffis to Romy Miner 7-yard TD pass (Young PAT)
3Q 7:18 BR Mitch Griffis to Luke Lindenfeldar 20-yard TD pass (PAT missed)
4Q 11:14 BR Tim Baldwin 3-yard TD run (2pt failed)
4Q 5:26 SB Zakias Moore 1-yard TD run (PAT missed)