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September 24, 2011

Battle of the Burn: Instant Classic

This One Lived Up To The Hype As Stone Bridge Beats Broad Run 31-30 In Overtime

The first half of what was billed as "The Battle Of The 'Burn" between Stone Bridge and Broad Run Friday night had little sizzle, and certainly did not live up to its billing as the visiting Spartans rolled to a 24-0 lead.

But the second half made up for any first-half shortcomings, featuring an incredible Stone Bridge comeback, bone-crushing hits, big offensive plays all around, and a miraculous 31-30 Bulldog win in overtime.

In an electric atmosphere boasting the biggest crowd to ever see a football game in Ashburn, Broad Run came out firing while Stone Bridge made mistakes most teams make in their first-week scrimmages. Stone Bridge fumbled on its first offensive play, leading to a Broad Run field goal, then the Spartans added two touchdown runs of 7 and 43 yards by Derrill Thomas plus a 54-yard pass from Connor Jessop to Dorian Jenkins to make it 24-0 as Broad Run fans chanted "over-rated" at the Stone Bridge stands.

If that first half stung them, the Bulldogs did not come out of the locker room to start the second half looking like a rejuvenated team hell-bent on a comeback, and it appeared as if the beating would continue in the second half. Broad Run drove the ball down to the Stone Bridge 1 with five minutes left in the third quarter, and facing third and goal, the Bulldogs' Jonathan Allen stuffed the run to leave the Spartans with a decision: kick a field goal and go up by four scores, or go for it and turn the game into a rout.

Broad Run decided to gamble, but instead of driving the heel of their cleat through Stone Bridge's heart, they instead got the toe of a Bulldog cleat in their teeth. Allen stuffed the fourth down run, and the Stone Bridge attack finally showed some life.

Bulldog quarterback Ryan Burns - who got a lot of preseason publicity for the interest he's received from major colleges - did not display any of that potential in the first half. Stone Bridge Coach Mickey Thompson seemed more intent on using him as a runner than a passer, and of the few passes he threw, all were short throws, with most having a recurring theme of bouncing in the mud a foot in front of his receiver.

But on this drive, Burns showed why he is so coveted. After moving the offense across midfield, the 6-foot-5 Burns went back to pass and launched a missle that hit Stan Johnson on his fingertips dead in stride for a 43-yard touchdown play. "That boy can play," was heard over on the Broad Run sidelines, and unfortunately for those Spartans, they hadn't seen anything yet.

By eschewing the field goal, Broad Run left itself in a position where three touchdowns and three two-point conversions could tie the score, and after Johnson caught his TD pass, Burns threw a fastball to John Petersen for the first two-pointer to make it 24-8.

Fired up with its crowd finally back to life, Stone Bridge's defense held, forcing a Broad Run punt just as the third period ended. Stone Bridge moved the ball a little, getting it to their own 40, but faced another of what seemed like a dozen "here's your ball game" plays, having a 4th and 1 with 11 minutes left in the game.

Running back Stephen Trivieri got the call and not only did he make the first down, he burst through the line and went the remaining 60 yards for a touchdown. Seconds later, he easily made it into the end zone for the two-pointer and it was 24-16 with plenty of time left.

Broad Run mounted another drive, and was burning time off the clock before disaster struck. Facing a third and long near midfield, Jessop rolled to his left and with conditions being wet from the previous day's rain, the ball slipped out of his hand. A scrum ensued, with Stone Bridge recovering with 6:47 left in the game

Just as in the previous drive, Stone Bridge moved the ball marginally, and ended up facing another crucial 4th and 3 play from outside the Broad Run 30. Trivieri again said "I got this", running the ball down to the 18, then Burns drilled a pass over the middle to move the ball to the 3. The rest was academic as Trivieri scored on a 3-yard run, then jogged in on the 2-pointer and the game was tied at 24-24.

Broad Run still had a chance to win it in regulation, and moved the ball past midfield. But on a third-down play, Jessop was intercepted by Mike Tompkins, and Stone Bridge had the same opportunity to win it in regulation. Burns returned the favor as his pass was intercepted by Jenkins one minute left, and not wanting to risk any more turnovers, Broad Run Coach Matt Griffis had Jessop kneel twice to run the clock out and force the game into overtime.

Broad Run got the ball first in OT, and scored a touchdown on a spectacular catch by Jenkins on a jump-ball type pass from Jessop. The extra point kick by sophomore Billy Deane, however, doinked off the right upright, and Stone Bridge knew the game was theirs.

It took Stone Bridge three plays before Trivieri scored from a yard out, then Ben Lambourne -- who had not had a chance to attempt a kick due to the need for all the two-point conversions -- drilled the extra point for the winning margin.

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