Sherando 21, Broad Run 13
When Broad Run sophomore Zachary Austin sailed through Sherando's defenders and blocked Nick Salvatore's punt with 1 minutes 20 seconds left Tuesday night, he single-handedly gave the Spartans new life.
He also, very clearly, made a statement that the entire Broad Run team rallied behind despite a 21-13 loss.
"The we way played at the end tonight, that just shows what this team is about," said Spartans senior Joseph Costello, who grabbed two interceptions for the second time in as many games. "We aren't ever going to give up. Even at the very end when they were just trying to take a knee and run out the clock, you could see our defensive players trying desperately to get to him before he could get his knee down. We did not want to lose this game."
Despite just 136 yards of total offense, Broad Run (1-1) had a chance to win at home. Austin's much-needed block put the Spartans in position to tie the game late, giving them possession at the Sherando 14-yard line. But after a first-down rushing play netted two yards, the Spartans -- with no timeouts left -- were forced to spike the ball on second down.
Facing third-and-8 from the 12 with less than a minute to play, senior Kyle Hopeck dropped back to pass and appeared to have senior tight end Alex Field wide open in the right corner of the end zone. Before the ball could reach Field, however, Sherando senior Jacob Buhl dove in front for an interception to seal the win.
"We had to dig really deep late to get a block on that kick and give ourselves a chance to win," said Broad Run Coach Ken Belchik, whose team went 6-4 a year ago after going winless in 2002. "But we did, and we had the right play called there at the end. We just didn't execute it."
Sherando got the first points of the game with a 37-yard touchdown pass from senior Jordan Gibson (10 of 21, 141 yards) to senior wideout Corey Johnson on the first play of the second quarter. Broad Run tied the score less than three minutes before halftime on a 29-yard run by 5-foot-4, 148-pound junior Thayer Nelson, who faked out one defender on the play and stepped over another.
"You're too fast, man, you need to slow down a little bit," Buhl said appreciatively as he shook Nelson's hand after the game.
Nelson totaled a team-high 68 yards rushingand also accounted for the Spartans' only other score, taking a pitch around the right end with 3:07 left in the third. It came the series after Sherando had taken its second lead of the game on a 22-yard reverse by senior Brandon Millholland.
"The one thing, the whole game, is that every time we got down, we answered," Nelson said. "Even at the end, we had a chance; we just didn't finish it. We have to work next time on not getting off to a slow start."
Sherando, leading 14-13 after blocking Broad Run's point-after attempt, added a three-yard score by junior Josh Oher with 5:23 to play to force the Spartans to go for a touchdown in the game's closing minutes.
"We're a good football team that just got beat by a very good football team," Belchik said. "We took one on the chin tonight. But we'll go back to practice this week and be ready to go again on Saturday. There's no question about that. I've had teams in the past that might have hung their head or given up. I know that this group never will."