Ashburn, Va. — Like most high school football teams, the Broad Run Spartans faced adversity throughout their season. But there was one major challenge the Spartans hadn’t had to overcome until their VHSL Region 5C semifinal game against Tuscarora High School on November 16: a halftime deficit.
As they had all season, Broad Run rose to the challenge, coming from behind to defeat the Huskies, 28-14, to advance to the VHSL Region 5C championship game.
“We’re in a good place right now. Our kids keep working hard,” Broad Run head coach Matt Griffis said. “It’s a tight-knit group that truly cares about one another. They’re so positive with one another even when things aren’t going our way.”
Facing 4th-and-short deep inside Broad Run territory, Tuscarora senior quarterback Justin Allen got the scoring started when he broke free up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run to give the Huskies the lead midway through the first quarter.
With the 7-0 lead, Tuscarora handed things over to its defense which did a great job of keeping the Spartans’ run game under wraps in the first half.
Even as the Huskies contained Broad Run junior running back Tim Baldwin, the Spartans meticulously moved the ball in the second quarter, dominating time of possession but having little to show for it.
Then with less than ten seconds left in the first half, Broad Run finally got the offensive break they were looking for. Facing 3rd-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line, the Spartans lined up in an unbalanced set, and junior quarterback Mitch Griffis followed the crowd into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run.
While it looked like Broad Run would even things out, the Spartans pulled the PAT left and headed into halftime trailing 7-6.
Coming out of the half, Broad Run was ready to make the necessary offensive adjustments and got their first real opportunity when junior linebacker Kesean Dyson pounced on a Tuscarora fumble at the Huskies’ 34-yard line midway through the third quarter.
Two plays later, Griffis connected with senior receiver Luke Lindenfeldar on a 22-yard touchdown pass to give Broad Run its first lead of the game, 12-7.
The Huskies, however, had an immediate response. On Tuscarora’s next play from scrimmage, Allen found junior receiver Jevonn Gilyard for a 62-yard touchdown pass, as the Huskies reclaimed the lead, 14-12.
Those seven points would be the last points the Spartans’ defense would allow.
“Our defense played great all day,” Coach Griffis said. “When you hold that team to just 14 points, your defense must be doing a good job. Our defense just kept scrapping and giving us a chance.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Griffis took advantage of those opportunities, connecting with junior receiver Lance Lacny on a 24-yard touchdown pass to give Broad Run the lead from which they’d never look back.
“They have tremendous talent. Mitch is a fantastic quarterback, and he was able to take advantage of some opportunities,” Tuscarora head coach Brandon Wheelbarger said. “But our kids kept fighting, and it just didn’t go our way. I am damn proud of them.”
In completing the come back, Broad Run earned its shot at the VHSL Region 5C title. In a rematch of the Battle of the Burn, Broad Run will host Ashburn-rival Stone Bridge on November 23. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.
“We want to make history. We’re going to prepare hard for them,” Broad Run senior linebacker Alec Solano said. “They have some good running backs, and they run hard, but we’re going to do our best to stop them.”
1Q 4:39 T Justin Allen 11-yard TD run (Skirkanich PAT)
2Q 0:09 BR Mitch Griffis 1-yard TD run (PAT missed)
3Q 7:44 BR Mitch Griffis to Luke Lindenfeldar 22-yard TD pass (2pt failed)
3Q 7:33 T Justin Allen to Jevonn Gilyard 62-yard TD pass (Skirkanich PAT)
4Q 10:41 BR Mitch Griffis to Lance Lacny 24-yard TD pass (2pt good)
4Q 1:39 BR Mitch Griffis 3-yard TD run (2pt good)