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Tuscarora’s defense stands strong in 14-12 win versus Broad Run

Tuscarora senior defensive back Alex Lee intercepts a pass and returns it 70 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.—Photo Courtesy/Bill Vocke
A pair of second-quarter touchdowns and a late goal-line stand propelled the Tuscarora Huskies to a 14-12 victory against the host Broad Run Spartans in the semifinal round of the Region 5C playoffs Nov. 17 in Ashburn.

In a game of big plays and missed opportunities, it was the Huskies' defense that came up big when it mattered most.

“We really needed our defense," Tuscarora head coach Mike Burnett said. "The defense carried us."

Tuscarora (10-2) advances to the Region 5C championship game. The No. 3 seed Huskies will travel to Ashburn once again Nov. 24 to face No. 1 seed Stone Bridge (12-0) for the region crown and a spot in the state semifinals.

Broad Run (10-2) sophomore running back Tim Baldwin opened the scoring in Friday's semifinal game. Baldwin scored on a 4-yard run late in the first quarter after the Spartans recovered a Tuscarora fumble at the Huskies 35-yard line.

A mishandled snap on the extra-point attempt kept the No. 2 seed Spartans lead at 6-0 and would prove costly later on.

After Tuscarora went three-and-out on its next possession, Broad Run quickly drove into Huskies' territory apparently with all the momentum. Tuscarora senior defensive back Alex Lee had other things in mind.

Lee intercepted a pass from Broad Run sophomore quarterback Mitch Griffis and ran 70 yards in the opposite direction for a Huskies' touchdown. Max Skirkanich converted the extra point to give Tuscarora a 7-6 lead.

“It was third-and-four and were playing off-man and I knew he was going to do a hitch," Lee said. "I went up on it and got it and then I had to put my wheels to the turf and just out run everyone."

After forcing a three-and-out on Broad Run’s following possession, Tuscarora went on a nine-play 55-yard drive highlighted by a 23-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Justin Allen to senior receiver Adam Thorne.

Skirkanich added the extra point to give the Huskies a 14-6 lead at halftime.

Broad Run answered quickly in the third quarter. After Frank McGhee III returned the opening second-half kickoff back to Tuscarora’s 36-yard line, Baldwin crossed the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the one.

Tuscarora denied Broad Run's two-point conversion attempt to maintain a 14-12 lead less than three minutes into the third quarter.

Defense and costly penalties on both sides ruled the remainder of the back-and-forth match-up. A personal foul penalty on the Huskies negated a 48-yard pass from Allen to Caleb Coombs that would have set Tuscarora up on the Spartans 1-yard line. A roughing the kicker penalty on Tuscarora extended the Spartans' final drive.

In addition, Broad Run had difficulty recovering from costly holding penalties and Griffis appeared to be bothered from an injured leg.

"They’re such a well-balanced team," Burnett said of Broad Run, who had won the previous three games between the Potomac District teams. "Griffis is a dual-threat. He looked like he was hobbling a little bit. I think that slowed them down a little bit and we were able to focus a little bit more on their tailback."

The fourth quarter was controlled by Broad Run. The Spartans twice converted on fourth down as they drove 77 yards to set up first-and-goal at the Tuscarora 5-yard line. Presumably on its heels, Tuscarora held firm.

"In practice we did a lot of red zone work," Tuscarora senior defensive back Chris Broad said. "When we got in that situation, we all knew what we needed to do and to get the stop."

On fourth-and-goal at the Huskies' 3-yard line, Broad Run opted to attempt a potential decisive field goal. Attila Buri’s 21-yard attempt sliced just right of the goalpost and Tuscarora was able to run out the clock on the ensuing possession to seal the victory.

Tuscarora 14, Broad Run 12

-First Quarter
BR: Baldwin 4 run (kick failed) 1:21

-Second Quarter
T: Lee 70 interception return (Skirkanich kick) 8:31
T: Allen 23 pass to Thorne (Skirkanich kick) 3:24

-Third Quarter
BR: Baldwin 1 run (run failed) 9:15

Offensive leaders

-Passing: T – Allen (10 of 15 for 87 yards, TD); BR – Griffis (17 of 25 for 117 yards, Int.)

-Rushing: T – Allen (10-66), West (8-28), Lundy (6-23); BR – Baldwin (26-92-2), Griffis (4-19)

-Receiving: T – Coombs (6-53), Thorne (1-23-1), Carey (2-6); BR – Turner (6-32), Drake (2-29), Bryson (1-26), Brazina (4-17), Baldwin (2-8), Hale (2-5)

Photos by Bill Vocke


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