Ashburn, Va. — The Battle of the Burn is usually Loudoun County’s most anticipated sporting event of the fall. So when Stone Bridge traveled to Broad Run High School for the VHSL Region 5C championship – which doubled as Battle of the Burn Part II – on November 23, the fans came out in droves.
“This is a tough atmosphere to manage. You can’t even hear,” Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson said. “We had two play calls missed because the numbers I was giving the guy who does our board, he couldn’t hear. The noise in this stadium is unbelievable.”
“We played a lot of new faces on defense and a decent amount of new faces on offense,” Thompson said. “We changed schemes. That’s what you do. You have to try to work on what went wrong the first time around.”
After jumping out to an early 14-0 lead, Stone Bridge missed a 28-yard field goal attempt with less than one minute left in the second quarter.
With more than 80 yards to go in less than a minute, Broad Run junior quarterback Mitch Griffis orchestrated a drive that got his team within striking distance. With 15 seconds left, Griffis connected with senior receiver Luke Lindenfeldar inside the Stone Bridge 10-yard line. Rather than stepping out of bounds to stop the clock, Lindenfeldar stepped back in to pick up an extra yard, forcing the Spartans to use their final time out.
Then facing 2nd-and-goal with less than 10 seconds left, Stone Bridge senior defensive end Paul Moore got into the backfield and chased down Griffis, ending the Broad Run threat and preserving a 14-6 halftime lead.
“We made so many mistakes and almost handed them the ball when we were up 14-0. It would have been hard to get their attention in the second half if we hadn’t gotten that stop there,” Thompson said. “The stop was a game changer. Everyone got fired up and rallied around that stop. That was a big moment for us.”
In the second half, Stone Bridge dominated the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. The Bulldogs’ defensive line play was so good, in fact, the Spartans were unable to get anything going as Stone Bridge shut out Broad Run over the last 30 minutes of the game.
“Defensively, we just didn’t want to get up the field because Griffis would have just taken off,” Thompson said. “If you try to rush the passer, it’s just not going to happen, so we just tried to stay on the line of scrimmage.”
With two-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter, the Bulldogs’ offensive line showed its strength as it opened up a hole, and Stone Bridge junior running back Jared Cole broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run – his first of two rushing touchdowns.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Stone Bridge senior defensive back Payton Hunter, picked of Griffis. Then a minute later, Stone Bridge senior running back Nick Mell scored from two yards out – his second rushing touchdown of the day.
In winning the region title, the Bulldogs advance to their fifth VHSL 5A State Final Four since 2010 and will host North Stafford in a VHSL 5A State semifinal on December 1. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.
“I know what it’s like to go to the state championship; I’ve been there twice. Losing that game is hard,” Moore said. “We just have to treat every game like it’s going to be our last.”
1Q 6:41 SB Mason Tatum to Tai Felton 45-yard TD pass (Baron PAT)
1Q 4:22 SB Nick Mell 1-yard TD run (Baron PAT)
2Q 7:24 BR Mitch Griffis to Jake Busser 34-yard TD pass (PAT missed)
3Q 2:29 SB Jared Cole 30-yard TD run (Baron PAT)
3Q 1:15 SB Nick Mell 2-yard TD run (Baron PAT)
4Q 10:53 SB Jared Cole 45-yard TD run (Baron PAT)