Cast out by construction on its home field, Broad Run safely navigated six weeks of away games to start the season undefeated. In the expedition’s final trial before turning homeward, though, the Spartans landed at their closest and least-welcoming stop: Stone Bridge.
Leading into the latest edition of the matchup between the two Ashburn rivals, coined the ‘Battle of the Burn,’ Broad Run had trumped its hosts with offensive onslaughts, but the Bulldogs promised to be a fierce and desperate foe, more motivated than any to spoil the journey.
And that they did.
Long before the final whistle blew, the Broad Run bench had grown tired of yelling out run plays for its defense, as Stone Bridge dominated on the ground for a decisive 27-13 victory Friday night in Ashburn.
“This is amazing,” senior offensive lineman Andrew Vastardis said. “They like to talk a lot of smack, so it’s nice to come out here and run right at them.”
Stone Bridge (4-3, 1-0 Conference 14) was playing in its third full game without starting senior quarterback Joe Thompson, but running backs Joshua Breece and Chase Ridley helped the Bulldogs control time of possession and pound away at an overmatched Broad Run defensive front.
“Our offense is less dynamic without Joe Thompson, so I knew I had to step up and make some plays,” said Breece, who carried the ball 40 times for 171 yards. “I’m not tired. I could run behind those guys all night.”
Breece scored twice in the first half to give Stone Bridge a 14-0 lead at the break. On its first possession of the second half, Broad Run (6-1, 2-1) had first and goal from the Stone Bridge 3-yard line before quarterback Kyle Brickerd was ultimately sacked on fourth down. Two plays later, Ridley ran 78 yards down the sideline to extend Stone Bridge’s lead to 20-0 and ignite a raucous home crowd.
Dohnavyn Jefferson returned his second interception 30 yards for a touchdown with just under eight minutes remaining to cap what was a night to forget for the Broad Run offense. Three times in the second half, the Spartans got inside the Stone Bridge 10-yard line without coming away with points.
“Our defense came up big, especially after we turned the ball over and put them in some tough positions,” Breece said. “They us gave the confidence to come out and do what we do, which is run the ball.”
After a rocky start, Stone Bridge now has won the first of the four conference games that will close out the season. The Bulldogs are hungry for a conference title, one that now appears to be in reach.
And maybe they’re just hungry in general, too.
“I’m going to IHOP, baby. I’m going to get me some pancakes,” said 6-foot-4, 320-pound Vastardis of the local restaurant where both the Bulldogs and Spartans often feast on Friday nights. “Not one stack — going to need more than that tonight.”