A punt and a field goal were the difference-makers in Friday night’s matchup between two Guilford County powerhouse football teams, as the Page Pirates edged out the Eastern Guilford Wildcats in the first meeting between the two teams at Tommy Grayson Field.
The first half of the game featured defense and penalties with neither team getting its offensive rolling. The Pirates held the edge in total offense at halftime, but also had the most penalties which slowed several of their drives.
Eastern Guilford won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half, a decision that played to their advantage.
The Wildcats were the first to score in the second half. They started the drive from mid-field and six plays later, Collin Smith booted a 44-yard field goal through the uprights to put his team on the board.
The Pirates turned the ball over on a Javondre Paige interception just two plays later. Eastern’s Nic Cheely returned the interception to the Page one-yard line, and it took Wildcat quarterback Dominique Graves two tries to get into the end zone. The extra-point kick was blocked, making the score 9-0 Eastern.
The following Page possession ended with a commanding 44-yard punt from Thomas Murray, and the Pirates downed the ball on the Eastern one-yard line. The punt was the beginning of the Page comeback.
The Pirates tackled Eastern quarterback Dominique Graves into the Eastern end zone, and with that safety, the momentum that the Wildcats had so quickly gained was stolen by the Pirates.
On the kickoff from the safety, it took Page just three plays to score. Cody King, a receiver who made timely catches all night, took a hand-off from Paige and ran the far sideline, where he met a formidable pack of Wildcats. The 5’5” King broke through the defenders and finished the run with a touchdown. King made several big plays on the night but none bigger than this 50-yard touchdown run.
The Pirates caught a break when the Eastern punter went to a knee on a low snap at the end of the third quarter, deep in Wildcat territory. Four plays later, Javondre Paige trotted 13 yards into the promised land to give Page their first lead of the night, 16-9.
The Wildcats went on a 6-play, 87-yard drive that lasted just 1:24 and erased the Pirates lead just 1:30 after the Page’s last score.
On the comeback drive, Adam Akins made a 47-yard reception on the first play from scrimmage to get the Wildcats to the Page 40. Page was then penalized for pass interference that moved the ball to their 25-yard line and another for holding which moved it to the 15. Then Dominique Graves found the waiting hands of Zaccheus Milton, and the score was once again tied.
The Pirates started their final drive of the game with 10:17 to play on their own 24-yard line.
Page’s offense took over and did what some would say they are notorious for doing, eating time off the clock. They went on an 18-play, 74-yard drive that took more than eight and a half minutes off the clock.
The Pirates screeched to a halt on the two-yard line on third and goal, so they put the game on the foot of Thomas Murray, the man who had given them what they needed to get on the board late in the third quarter.
Murray came through again, blasting a 19-yard field goal through the uprights to put the Pirates up 19-16.
The vaunted Page defense held on as Eastern Guilford gave its all to try for the comeback with no timeouts and 1:40 on the clock. The Eastern offense converted once on fourth-and-10 to keep the drive going, and they were finally stopped with just six seconds remaining and attempted the game-tying 43-yard field goal. Page burst through the line and Stephen Scott partially blocked the field goal, and downed the ball with 0.3 seconds remaining on the clock to secure the Pirates third win of the season.
“This was a good, tough football game,” Eastern Guilford head coach Doug Robertson said. “Somebody had to win it, somebody had to lose it.”
“Within a matter of minutes, we made some crucial mistakes.” he added.
Page head coach Jared Rolfes spoke about the difference a solid kicker can make on a game.
“People fail to remember, when you have a kicker that can put you in a position to be successful, that’s huge,” he said. “The reason we won tonight is the fact that we had three points and that (Murray) flipped the field.”
The Page Pirates improve to (3-1) on the season with the win and Eastern Guilford drops to (3-1). Eastern Guilford takes on Smith Friday and Page will play Reagan High School in Winston-Salem next week.
(EG) Collin Smith 44 FG
(EG) Dominique Graves 1 run, (kick failed)
(PAGE) Cody King 50 run, (Thomas Murray kick)
(PAGE) Javondre Paige 13 run (Murray kick)
(EG) Zaccheus Milton 15 pass from Graves (Smith kick)
(PAGE) Murray 19 FG
Javondre Paige: (15-21) 155yds, INT; 14 rushes 66yds, TD
Cody King: 2 rushes 46yds, TD; 4 rec 45yds
Sincere Davis: 16 rushes 57yds; did not rush for (-)yds all night
Assad Alston: 5 rec 42yds
Nick Baker: 4rec 58yds
Thomas Murray: 44,40yd punts; 19yd FG
Dominique Graves: (11-31) 152yds, TD; 14 rushes -9yds, TD
Zaccheus Milton: 2 rec 14yds, TD
Adam Akins: 1 rec 47yds
Nic Cheely: 6 rec 34yds; INT on Defense
Darrell Roberts: 8 rushes 28yds