On the first play of the fourth quarter on Monday, Broad Run junior quarterback Brady Reitzel watched helplessly from the sideline as 22 players crowded the 1-yard line for a pivotal fourth-and-goal play. Unbeaten Tuscarora was knocking on the door of a three-score lead.
But the Spartans’ junior passer foresaw it differently.
“I thought I could tell the future, and I saw our defense getting the stop,” Reitzel said. “I just had to hope that I was right.”
He was. Tuscarora quarterback Daniel Smith did not get a firm handle of the snap and the Spartans held. Broad Run (5-1, 1-0) took over after the turnover on downs and responded by driving 99 yards in 2 minutes 11 seconds for a touchdown that spurred a 21-17 victory in the Virginia Potomac District.
The matchup featured the return of Tuscarora Coach Mike Burnett to Broad Run, where he led the Spartans to two state titles. The reunion carried extra meaning for Broad Run senior running back Da’Qwan Earl, who scored the winner from eight yards with 5 minutes 24 seconds left. His brother Breon, a running back on Broad Run’s 2009 state title team, was in attendance Monday.
Noting the attention paid to Burnett’s return to Broad Run, Da’Qwan Earl said, “I wanted to beat him because my brother played for him.”
Smith scored two first-half rushing touchdowns for Tuscarora on quarterback keepers. From there, the Huskies (6-1, 0-1) tried to play keep-away. They sat on the ball for all but 2:11 of the third quarter and ran 15 plays to the Spartans’ five.
Junior running back Noah Reimers ate up minutes and touches, carrying 38 times for 217 yards.
“It was frustrating,” Earl said of the Huskies’ ball-control offense. “We’d try to make stops, and we couldn’t. But we bend but don’t break, and Coach [Matt Griffis] preaches that.”
In the fourth quarter, offensive play-calling and tempo abruptly changed for the Spartans. Reitzel helmed a no-huddle attack and attempted 12 passes over the final 12 minutes. The Spartans burned Tuscarora on play-action swing passes that also gave Reitzel options to run.
“I’d say that’s our number one [passing] play,” Reitzel said. “We started running it in the second half and it worked well.”
The game turned on the goal-line stop, though Burnett believed Reimers crossed the goal line after recovering Smith’s fumble.
Smith “dropped the ball, and Reimers picked it up and ran it into the end zone,” Burnett said. “I don’t know how that’s not a touchdown.”
Broad Run will next play Briar Woods, the only other undefeated team in Potomac District play, on Friday in Ashburn.
“This was definitely a statement game. Now we have Briar Woods and we’ll try to make it another statement game,” Earl said.