Standing 6-foot-4, Battlefield senior quarterback Ryan Swingle rarely struggles to see the full field from the pocket. But his top target in the passing game is also his most visible: 6-5 wide receiver Nick Newman.
The Bobcats’ towering big-play combination struck early and often in Friday’s key Virginia AAA Cedar Run District clash with Broad Run, and the defense took care of the rest as Battlefield pulled away for a 35-14 win.
The brisk air and a wet field in Haymarket gave the contest a playoff feel — and postseason atmosphere tends to bring out the best in the Bobcats (6-2, 3-1).
On the first snap of the game, Swingle lofted a bomb to Newman down the middle of the field. The Broad Run defensive back slipped on the play, and Newman ran in untouched for a 65-yard touchdown.
“It’s like throwing to a little Calvin Johnson,” Swingle said. “If I put it up there, I know he’ll come down with it.”
The Swingle-to-Newman connection produced six receptions and 122 of Swingle’s 242 passing yards on the night.
Facing an instant deficit, Broad Run (4-4, 1-1) used offensive line shifts to draw three quick offsides, but when the Spartans actually snapped the ball, Battlefield’s burly defensive front held its ground. The Bobcats stopped the Spartans on fourth and three at their own 24-yard line, and they forced two punts on Broad Run’s four first-half possessions.
Broad Run junior Corey Hilberath ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run to knot the score at 7, but that was the lone Spartan carry to go for more than four yards on the night. The Spartans’ running game produced only 28 yards on the rest of its 25 carries.
“We had to adjust to those shifts and stop jumping offsides,” Battlefield defensive end Jack Taylor said. “But our size definitely helps, and we were able to drive and get under them up front. Aside from a couple big plays, we shut them down.”
Austin Thibodeaux’s nine-yard touchdown run gave Battlefield a 14-7 halftime lead, and on its second drive of the third quarter Swingle capped a nine-play, 46-yard march with the first of his two short touchdown runs.
“I knew they were throwing there, and I just read the receiver and came up with the pick,” Newman said. “That was definitely a game-changing play.”
Dorian Jenkins turned a screen pass into a 70-yard gain that led to Hilberath’s second touchdown run and pulled the Spartans within two touchdowns, but they would get no closer.
Swingle completed 16 of his 19 pass attempts and his 48-yard run on third-and-20 midway through the fourth quarter sealed the victory to keep the Bobcats one game behind No. 18 Stonewall Jackson (8-0, 3-0) in the district standings.