Broad Run 28, Loudoun Valley 27
On a night in which his body had been slammed and tossed by Loudoun Valley's stingy defense and when the game seemed to be slipping from his team's grasp, Broad Run's Thayer Nelson said he never wavered in his convictions.
"Every time we're down, we always know we're going to make a comeback," the running back said. "We always know we're going to make that push to win it."
The Spartans haven't forgotten the time when one loss just seemed to spiral into another. Two years ago, they struggled through a winless season.
But with a fresh sense of confidence, the Spartans continued their ascent with a 28-27 overtime victory over Loudoun Valley in a AA Dulles District game on Friday night. Kyle Hopeck's nine-yard touchdown pass to Alexander Feemster, and a point-after kick by David Heenan, proved the winning points. Loudoun Valley came close to tying but missed an extra point wide left.
Broad Run (4-1, 2-0) twice surrendered leads, largely because of the heady play of Loudoun Valley quarterback Stephen Sheehan (89 yards on 11 carries, 112 yards passing). An early Spartans lead turned into a 14-7 deficit at the start of second half after Sheehan engineered two scoring drives: the first ending with a 33-yard pass to Cody Farr and the second culminating in Sheehan's 11-yard keeper.
But Broad Run tied it with a three-yard run from fullback Brandon DeSouza and then grabbed a 21-14 lead on a 62-yard touchdown run by Nelson.
Coach Ken Belchik has counted on Nelson all season. Last year the Spartans relied on the running of Michael Coleman (1,522 yards, 17 touchdowns), the district's leading rusher, who graduated. This year the team expected fullback Andrew Lawlor to shoulder the rushing load.
But a broken foot has sidelined Lawlor since the start of the season, clearing the way for the shifty Nelson. At 5 feet 4 and 148 pounds, Nelson carried the ball 25 times for 172 yards against Loudoun Valley.
"He's one of those quiet guys off the field, but the guys really love him," Broad Run Belchik said of Nelson. "When he gets on the field the guys just really want to block for him. His hard work has really paid off."
Friday night's win also was a milestone of sorts for Belchik. It marked the coach's first victory over Loudoun Valley since he took over the Spartans' program seven years ago.
"Stuff happens, and it usually happens to Broad Run football," said Spartans safety Joe Costello. "But we finally got the monkey off our back."