Leesburg, Va. — For the third time in four years, the Broad Run High School football team will hoist the Dulles District championship banner after erasing a halftime deficit, forcing a pair of second-half turnovers, and coming from behind to defeat rival Tuscarora, 27-17, on November 5 in Leesburg.
“We can tell them all we want, but they have to believe in themselves,” Broad Run head coach Matt Griffis said. “We have great team leadership, and we were not going to just give this game to them. We were going to do everything we could to win.”
The night did not start as planned for the Spartans, who on the first play from scrimmage threw a backward lateral which was dropped and recovered by Tuscarora at the Broad Run 6-yard line. However, for the first time in the game, the Spartans defense had its first big stand, holding the Huskies to a 22-yard field goal.
Plagued by penalties, the Broad Run offense did not start clicking until the fourth quarter, however, following the Tuscarora field goal in the first, the Spartans were the next on the board, when senior quarterback Brett Griffis hit senior receiver Isaiah Lemmond with a 15-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter to put the Spartans up 7-3.
That Broad Run lead was short lived as Tuscarora senior running back Bryce Duke responded less than a minute later with a 52-yard touchdown run.
After the Huskies forced Broad Run to turn the ball over on downs, Duke once again took over, carrying his first attempt of the ensuing drive 3 yards, his second attempt 27 yards, before breaking free again for a 53-yard touchdown run on this this carry of the series to increase the Tuscarora lead to 17-7 heading into the half.
“He’s a really good running back, so he’s going to make you pay when you leave a gap open,” Coach Griffis said. “We made some adjustments at the half, made sure our guys understood exactly what they were supposed to do, and they did a really good job making the adjustment.”
After a monstrous first half for Duke—who carried the ball just 9 times for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns through the first two quarters—the Broad Run defense held Duke to just 17 yards on 7 carries in the second half, forced two Tuscarora turnovers, and shut out the Huskies over the final 24 minutes of the game.
“We really adjusted our attitude in the second half,” Broad Run senior defensive lineman Dominick Tiaga said. “We were more patient, just sitting there and waiting for the play to develop, and that helped us slow him down.”
Trailing 17-7 heading into the fourth quarter, the Spartans offense continued to lean on the senior leadership of Griffis, Lemmond, and senior receiver Arnav Thornhill. Facing 3rd-and-10 from the Tuscarora 27 to open the fourth, Griffis connected with Lemmond on a 26-yard completion to get inside the Huskies’ 1. From there, sophomore running back Aslin Shipe found the endzone to cut the Tuscarora lead to 17-14.
On the Huskies’ very next offensive play, a miscue on the handoff, gave Broad Run the ball back at the Tuscarora 39 before Griffis hit Thornhill with a 36-yard touchdown pass to give the Spartans the lead, 20-17, following a missed extra point.
“We had to take our calculated risks,” Coach Griffis said. “They’re a good defense so you can’t just be taking shots consistently. We had to run the ball, too, which forced them to stay down with their safeties.”
As they had done all second half, the Broad Run defense stepped up again, forcing a three-and-out, before Griffis led a clock-eating, 47-yard drive which senior running back Alex Estes capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run to extend the Spartans’ lead to 27-17, the score by which they would win.
Broad Run will take the overall No. 1 seed into the VHSL Region 4C tournament where they’ll host Northwestern District No. 4 Sherando on November 12 in Ashburn. Tuscarora will travel to Northwestern District champion Kettle Run on the same night.
“We only played three home games this year, so it’s nice to have some home games in the playoffs,” Coach Griffis said. “It’s good for our kids to be home in Ashburn. It’s the comfort of home.”
|1Q||10:24||Tuscarora||Wilmer Salmeron 22-yard field goal||0-3|
|2Q||7:14||Broad Run||Brett Griffis to Isaiah Lemmond 15-yard TD pass (Garrett Bennion PAT)||7-3|
|2Q||6:23||Tuscarora||Bryce Duke 52-yard TD run (Wilmer Salmeron PAT)||7-10|
|2Q||0:47||Tuscarora||Bryce Duke 53-yard TD run (Wilmer Salmeron PAT)||7-17|
|4Q||11:22||Broad Run||Aslin Shipe 1-yard TD run (Garrett Bennion PAT)||14-17|
|4Q||10:13||Broad Run||Brett Griffis to Arnav Thornhill 36-yard TD pass (PAT missed)||20-17|
|4Q||2:04||Broad Run||Alex Estes 3-yard TD run (Garrett Bennion PAT)||27-17|