Wyatt Oliver fell to his knees in jubilation as he watched fellow Broad Run High School senior Josh Null race downfield with a punt return in the final minutes of Thursday's game at Colonial Forge. At that moment, he knew the Spartans had broken their 12-game losing streak.
Indeed, Null's 74-yard punt return for a touchdown with 2 minutes 55 seconds left in the game provided the winning points in the Spartans' 26-20 victory over Colonial Forge, a first-year school in Group AAA Commonwealth District. It was Broad Run's first win since Oct. 31, 1997.
"For the past year and a half, we've gotten no respect," said Oliver, one of five seniors on the Spartans roster. "People never come to our games. But we finally earned a win this time, and it feels good."
Broad Run (1-1) overcame sloppy field conditions and its own mistakes to beat the Eagles (0-2). The Spartans fumbled the ball a total of five times in the first half. In the second quarter, Broad Run fumbled and lost the ball on four consecutive possessions. The Spartans also had a 47-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Matt Gordy nullified in the fourth quarter because of a holding penalty.
"Our kids hung in there," said Ken Belchik, Broad Run's second-year coach. "We moved the ball well, but we kept fumbling the ball. This is our first time playing in the wet weather, but that's not an excuse--we just fumbled the ball. We had to overcome that."
Colonial Forge tied the game at 20 when freshman quarterback Brandon McKinney scored on a one-yard run with 5:53 left in the game. Broad Run was forced to punt on its next possession, and the Eagles got the ball back on their own 47 with 4:42 remaining.
But the Spartans' defense, which played well throughout the game, held firm. Broad Run stuffed freshman running back James Davis for no gain on first down, and then Oliver tackled Davis in the backfield for a five-yard loss on second down. Following an incomplete pass, the Eagles punted to Null, who fielded the ball on his own 26, broke one tackle, then darted down the left sideline for the game-winning score.
The victory "won't change anything at all," said Gordy, who rushed for two touchdowns. "It's just one win. Now we need to put a couple of them up there."
Broad Run (1-1) 7 7 6 6--26
Colonial Forge (0-2) 0 13 0 7--20
BR--Shuster 3 run (Shuster kick)
BR--Gordy 9 run (Shuster kick)
CF--Brown 15 pass from McKinney (Levine kick)
CF--Davis 8 run (kick blocked)
BR--Gordy 12 run (kick blocked)
CF--McKinney 1 run (Levine kick)
BR--Null 74 punt return (run failed)
LEADING RUSHERS--Broad Run: Gordy 15-88, Mitchell 13-68; Colonial Forge: Davis 22-41.
LEADING PASSERS--Broad Run: Gordy 0-2-1 0; Colonial Forge: McKinney 3-15-0 30.
LEADING RECEIVERS--Broad Run: none; Colonial Forge: Brown 1-15.