The ankle felt fine, but uncertainty remained about whether the senior would play in the second-ranked Bulldogs game against Ashburn rival Broad Run two days later.
The doctors gave the go-ahead, though, and wearing an ankle brace on Friday night, Burns had perhaps his most effective night ever for Stone Bridge in the “Battle of the Burn.”
Burns connected on 10 of 16 passes for 154 yards and threw for touchdowns of 37, 19 and 39 yards to lead the Bulldogs (4-0) to a 37-14 win on the road. Of his six incompletions, three were drops, including one that was destined for a 73-yard touchdown.
“Not that much, definitely,” Burns said, when asked if he expected to play at all. “I was thinking 10 to 15 plays baseline. I felt good during warmups and just felt really good and got in there.”
In his first season as a starter last year, Burns was inconsistent at times. There was no such rust against Broad Run (1-3).
The senior appeared calm and confident throughout and showed off his potential. He displayed his arm strength a number of times — zipping a pass across the field up the sideline for a big gain and then through coverage on a 37-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter — and also employed touch when needed, including floating a 19-yard touchdown pass just before halftime and hitting a 39-yard fade for a score.
“Ankle or no ankle, this week he has been throwing the ball better than ever,” Bulldogs Coach Mickey Thompson said. “I think the ankle actually helps because there is a clock now, you can’t get hit because it’s not 100 percent. So there’s a clock in his head so he’s just looking, making a decision and throwing the football instead of waiting, waiting and trying to make the big throw.”
A major turning point in the game came early.
The Bulldogs allowed Broad Run to march 75 yards on the opening drive, but held them at the 5-yard line and a missed field goal gave Stone Bridge the ball. Rassaun Goldring broke off a 55-yard run on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage and then scored from 22 yards out two plays later.
Burns hit D’Ante Yarborough on a 37-yard post pattern late in the second quarter and then found a wide-open Jake Kuzbel with 41.4 seconds left in the half to make it 24-7. His fade toss to Yarborough all but sealed the game on the last play of the third quarter.