2021.10.02 Football: The Battle of the Burn

Leesburg, VA (October 2, 2021) - The buildup for the 14th annual Battle of the Burn couldn't have been any better. Both the Stone Bridge Bulldogs and the Broad Run Spartans were undefeated, the weather was perfect, the game was a complete sellout, the fans were roaring early, the bands were in fine tune, and the venue was the sparkling Segra Field, a custom-designed, soccer-only facility converted into a perfect setting for the annual classic.

The only question on everyone's mind was, could the game on the field possibly live up to the hype?

Chas Sumser Photography was there to capture the action and emotion and posted a gallery of images from the game.

Well, three touchdowns for Stone Bridge in the first five minutes were probably not what anyone was expecting.

On their first drive, the Bulldogs' Colton Hinton hauled in a pass over the middle and ran in for a score. On the ensuing kickoff, Broad Run fumbled and Stone Bridge recovered leading to a short touchdown run for quarterback Jacob Thomas. And, on their next drive, the Spartans turned it over once more leading to a touchdown pass from Thomas to Greg Mckeown in the right corner of the end zone. Just like that, it was 21-0 and the first quarter was not even half over.

Broad Run scored a touchdown on a pass from from Brett Griffis to Arnav Thornhill with 5:13 to go in the period, and for the first time it seemed like the Spartans were going to be competitive. But Thomas ran for another Bulldog touchdown extending his team's lead to 28-7 as the quarter ended.

It was clear early that Stone Bridge could score almost at will, but Broad Run would have to grind it out, mistake-free, if they wanted any chance of winning. The Bulldog defensive line was just too strong for Griffis to get comfortable and the backfield was blanketing his receivers.

On the third play of the second quarter Griffis fumbled after a punishing hitand Stone Bridge took over. The Broad Run defense held their ground for the first time all night and forced the Bulldogs to punt. But even the punt went Stone Bridge's way as it backed up the Spartans deep in their own territory. 

Broad Run then engineered their most sustained drive of the night including a long pass down the sideline that surely would have been a score, but it was just out of reach of the intended receiver. The drive continued, but ended inside the Stone Bridge ten yard line when the Bulldogs opportunistic defense took the ball away again. With little time remaining, Stone Bridge expertly moved the ball down the field making it 35-7 at halftime.

If Broad Run had any hopes of getting back into the game they would need a great third quarter. But that didn't happen, and just two minutes into the second half Stone Bridge's Eli Mason raced in for a 35-yard touchdown run to make it 42-7, turning the lights out on the Spartans' chances. That was figurative, but just moments later the stadium lights actually shut down briefly, a fitting symbol of complete domination by Stone Bridge. As everyone waited for the lights to come back, the stands lit up with hundreds of cell phone lights casting a unified glow on an otherwise one-sided affair.

By the time the lights came back on, Broad Run was clearly defeated and would mount no extended drives nor do much to stop the Stone Bridge offense. The Bulldogs would go on to score three more touchdowns and walk away with the trophy again. From a competitive standpoint, the game itself clearly did not live up to the hype. But in every other way the scene was unforgettable and a memorable chapter in this storied rivalry. 

Final Score: Stone Bridge 64 - Broad Run 7

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