The Stone Bridge Bulldogs relied on the strong arm of star quarterback Ryan Burns to explode out of the gates Friday and claim a 28-0 first quarter lead over district foe South Lakes in Reston.
While the Bulldogs eventually cruised to an impressive 49-6 win, the bigger story may be the health of Burns, who was forced from the game in the second quarter with an aparent left ankle injury and did not return.
The efficiency and explosiveness of the Stone Bridge offense with Burns in the game was on full display in the first quarter. Burns connected with D'Ante Yarborough on scoring strikes of 58 and 40 yards to give the Bulldogs an early 14-0 lead.
Burns later hit senior wide receiver Jimmy Higgins for a 53-yard game that led to an easy 7-yard scoring run by Yarborough. Burns completed 4 of 7 passes for 154 and two touchdowns for the game. Yarborough led all players with 98-yards receiving and three touchdowns, while speedster Rassaun Goldring scored one touchdown rushing and added a weaving 75-yard punt return for a score for the Bulldogs.
"I thought we played really well, I was pretty excited. The [injury to] Ryan was the only downer," Stone Bridge head coach Mickey Thompson said.
The injury to Burns occurred early in the second quarter. After receiving some pressure from a South Lakes defender that resulted in contact, Burns began limping noticeably and the Stone Bridge coaches called a timeout to assess the situation. Burns was evaluated on the Bulldog bench and would not return to the game, as his ankle was initially wrapped in ice and later a compression wrap as he watched from the sidelines.
Freshmen quarterback Joe Thompson--son of the head coach--took over the reigns for the offense, which initially struggled. South Lakes rallied for back-to-back defensive stops and a quick 73-yard scoring pass from Rashaan Jones to Zac Parker to cut the lead to 28-6.
But whatever life the Burns injury may have breathed into the Seahawks was quickly squashed by an otherwise dominant Bulldog defense. Linebacker Jonathan Allen--who will take his talents to Alabama next year to play for the Crimson Tide--and defensive end Jesse Mizell continually pressured the South Lakes quarterback, resulting in several sacks. Allen's play was particularly imptressive, as he also blocked a punt and an extra point, and tallied a sack, forced fumble, and recovered fumble in one particularly impressive third quarter play. Allen's final stat line for the game: AWESOME.
"Our defense is playing lights out everywhere," Thompson said.
The Bulldogs first Liberty District win caps an exciting three week span where the Bulldogs have knocked off two perennial state powers from the cutthroat Concorde District (Robinson and Chantilly), and shown an explosiveness on offense that was lacking last season. But the Bulldogs must now turn their sights to Ashburn rival Broad Run, who they will face next week in the Battle of the 'Burn that ended last year with a thrilling, 31-30 overtime comeback win by the Buklldogs. The prospect of facing the Spartans without their starting quarterback is not something Thompson looks forward to.
"I keep my fingers crossed [Burns' injury] is just a bone bruise. I'm excited about the the Broad Run game, but I'd be more excited if we were healthy."
For more on Stone Bridge Football:
Falcons, Bulldogs Win Again; Spartans Suffer Tough Road Loss
What Offseason? Pt. 2: Stone Bridge Football