Behind a 21-point first quarter, Stone Bridge jumped out early on Broad Run and held on for a 28-7 win in the second round of the Virginia High School League football playoffs. The Bulldogs advance to play at Brooke Point in Stafford next Friday.
Stone Bridge (8-2 regular season, 2-0 postseason) is now two wins away from the school’s seventh appearance in the state championship game.
“It’s all Stone Bridge,” said head coach Mickey Thompson. “There’s only been one Stone Bridge and we’re always the team. Other people come along, but we’re always the team.”
Meanwhile, the season for Broad Run (8-2, 1-1) ends with a tough loss to their cross-town rivals, a team they beat 10-7 for a dramatic last-second victory in the regular season.
It was a different story for both teams in their playoff match up.
Stone Bridge scored touchdowns on three of its first 16 plays. Bulldogs’ quarterback Turner Easton found receiver Tyrese Johnson open against single coverage for touchdown passes of 40 yards and 53 yards, respectively, to put Stone Bridge up early. The hosts then scored on their third possession on a six-yard Leland Girdy run. The score put them up 21-0, a lead the Spartans would never seriously threaten.
Easton added another long touchdown pass, this time a 40-yarder to Daniel Thompson, in the third quarter to put his team up 28-0. The senior quarterback finished with 201 yards passing, completing nine of 17 attempts.
“The two long passes got us going, and once we got some points, (Broad Run) started pressing and I think that was the key to the game,” Thompson said. “We knew we’d have one-on-one match ups. We thought Thompson could win. We thought Johnson could win.”
While Stone Bridge jumped out to a big lead on offense, it was the defense that prevented any chance of Broad Run comeback.
Broad Run’s quarterback tandem of Ryan Braithwaite and Mitch Griffis, who both ran for over 100 yards apiece in their team’s first-round victory over Tuscarora, could get nothing going against the Bulldogs. As a team, the Bulldogs held the Spartans to 33 rushing yards on 20 attempts in the first half and less than 150 yards for the game. Stone Bridge was even better against the pass, holding Broad Run to zero yards through the air in the first half.
While the Bulldogs contained the Spartans’ quarterbacks, they were not as successful against Broad Run’s Meech Hembry, the conference’s offensive player of the year.
Hembry started under center in the second half, and the Spartans subsequently put together their best offensive drives of the game. Broad Run got its lone touchdown on a seven-play drive in the third quarter where Hembry accounted for every yard, throwing for 30 yards and rushing for 64 more and a touchdown.
“He’s the best player I’ve seen in high school period,” Thompson said.
The Spartans’ senior, who also played receiver, running back, defensive back and on special teams, lead another impressive drive on the series before. He engineered a 12-play drive to start the third quarter deep into Stone Bridge territory. But the drive stalled when Hembry was tackled for loses in the backfield on back-to-back plays. On the ensuing fourth-and-23, Hembry attempted a deep pass into the end zone that was easily deflected away.
The time-consuming nature of the drive, and the team’s failure to score on it while trailing by 21 in the second half, effectively ended the Spartans’ chances for a win.