MIDDLEBURG – With a full moon on Senior night, the one-win Middleburg High Broncos knew they could go out with a bang in the last game of the 2017 season. If the game ended at halftime, their dream …
MIDDLEBURG – With a full moon on Senior night, the one-win Middleburg High Broncos knew they could go out with a bang in the last game of the 2017 season. If the game ended at halftime, their dream would come true.
“I think we’re tired,” said Middleburg Head Coach Karl Smeltzer, who finishes at 1-9 after a region playoff finish in 2016. “The second half they started running and we couldn’t get anything going on offense again. It seemed to be a common occurrence for us. The defense is on the field an awful long time, and they get tired.”
Going into the locker room for the half, the Broncos were holding the visiting Bradford Tornadoes 17-7.
In the second half, the Tornadoes shut down the Bronco offense, and would go on to score five more times to end the Bronco 2017 season with a 41-17 defeat.
The Broncos played all season with a severe handicap. Against Bradford, they were 14 players short due to injury.
“I don’t think we played a game all year where we were less than 12 short,” said Smeltzer. “Forty one kids on the roster at the start of the year and 30 of them have missed at least one game (due to injury). I’ve had 12 different kids on the offensive line. NFL and D-1 College teams can’t survive 12 different guys on the offensive line.”
On the opening play of the second quarter, Bronco quarterback Garrett Blanchett who finished the night nine of 23, 146 yards with one interception, found a wide-open Andrew Thomas who streaked 63 yards to set the Bronco stadium on fire.
After a Tornado punt. The Broncos would start on the 40-yard line and get a huge shot of adrenaline from Tyler Bryant as he scooted 39 yards to get the Broncos deep within the Tornado red zone. After two runs and an incomplete pass, Morris would get the call again to give the Broncos a 10-0 lead halfway through the second quarter.
Still up 10-7 after a Bradford 25 yard touchdown run, Bronco kick returner Tanner Nobles lead the way with a 48-yard return to fire the team and the Bronco crowd back up. After a short gain run, Blanchett threw a laser beam shot to Tyler Bryant for the other Bronco score. Morris nailed another perfect kick to put the Broncos out front 17-7 with 1:49 to go until half.
An interception and two long scoring runs by Bradford reversed the Bronco momentum in the second half.
“I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to is off-season workouts,” said Smeltzer on a question on the start of the off-season on Monday. “Very, very hard off-season workouts. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”