The No. 3 seed Tuscarora Huskies beat top-seeded Broad Run on Friday afternoon in the Region 4C championship game, breezing past the host Spartans 30–7 to advance to the Virginia Class 4 state semifinals.
Senior quarterback Ethan Gick kept the Huskies' offense humming all game, completing 77.8 percent of his passes for 202 yards and four touchdowns. Tuscarora (12-1) controlled time of possession and didn’t turn the ball over against Broad Run (12-1).
“We watched a lot of film to get ready for the game,” Gick said following the Huskies' 12th consecutive win. “Our coaches put us in a good position, and we took the shots we knew we would have available. We just executed all around and made the plays we needed to make.”
The Huskies drew first blood against Broad Run, scoring on the first play of their second drive in the first quarter. Gick found senior wide receiver Jevonn Gilyard from 36 yards out, putting Tuscarora up 7–0, a lead they would take into the second quarter.
The Spartans answered with a score of their own early in the second quarter, tying the game 7–7 on an 18-yard touchdown connection between senior quarterback Mitch Griffis and junior receiver Jake Busser.
Gick and company got right back to work, though, marching downfield on a long drive that culminated with a 15-yard touchdown strike to junior receiver Ryan Upp, putting the Huskies up 14–7.
Following an interception by Tuscarora safety Josh Bendix, the visitors were able to get on the board again, this time on a touchdown connection between Gick and sophomore tailback Bryce Duke.
On Broad Run’s last drive before halftime, sophomore quarterback Brett Griffis took over the Spartan offense, the result of an injury to his brother Mitch on the previous drive. Mitch Griffis, it should be noted, missed the two previous Broad Run games with an injury.
The Spartans were unable to put any points on the board and Tuscarora took a 20–7 lead into halftime.
Mitch Griffis came out from the halftime break in street clothes, leaving the potential comeback in the hands of Brett, who led Broad Run to two playoff victories in his brother’s absence.
Tuscarora’s defense did a fantastic job in the second half and the comeback bid never materialized. The Huskies shut Broad Run out in the second half, holding the Spartans to just two first downs.
On offense, Tuscarora got another touchdown connection between Gick and Upp, as well as a field goal from all-district kicker Max Skirkanich to give them a 30–7 victory.
While the win earned Tuscarora its second regional championship in the last three seasons, it also served as a bit of revenge. Prior to Friday’s game, the only loss the Huskies had suffered came at the hands of Broad Run in the season opener.
“Our team has grown from the Week 1 game,” Tuscarora head coach Brandon Wheelbarger said in the midst of the team’s celebration. “We had a tremendous amount of kids making their first start in that first game, and for it to be a playoff atmosphere, it allowed our kids to grow a lot.”
“What you saw today was them having the confidence of having played in the game before,” Wheelbarger added. “There were no butterflies.”
Gilyard and Upp both finished with five catches for the Huskies, with Gilyard posting a game-high 112 receiving yards. Broad Run was led by Busser, who finished with five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Tuscarora advances to play at Salem (12-1) in the Class 4 state semifinals on Dec. 7. Salem defeated E.C. Glass 35-24 on Friday in the Region 4D championship game.
Tuscarora 30, Broad Run 7
T: Gick 36 pass to Gilyard (Skirkanich kick)
BR: M. Griffis 18 pass to Busser (Latimer kick)
T: Gick 15 pass to Upp (Skirkanich kick)
T: Gick 21 pass to Duke (kick failed)
T: Gick 8 pass to Upp (Skirkanich kick)
T: Skirkanich 29 field goal