Our look from Lee on the Ragsdale/Page matchup

Big win by Ragsdale tonight(Friday) over Page as Ragsdale played near flawless to beat a very talented Page team. Joe gave us the Page view of the game. From the Ragsdale sidelines Page started quickly as Newman took a QB counter about 60 yards for the first score.

Ragsdale was unable to move the ball after a big kick by Milisor. Ragsdale punted and Page started down the field again. However the Ragsdale D forced a 4th and short and Page went for it as they were just outside of Milisor’s range. LBer Walt Sparks had coverage over the middle and stepped in front of a Newman pass and intercepted the ball while taking it out of the receivers hands and ran it back 65 yards to the Page 6 yard line. Charles Thomasson scored on the next play and it was 7-7 and we had ourselves a ball game. Up until that point Page looked unstoppable as they were bigger and had excellent team speed. As a testament to Newman’s poise and talent this was Newman’s 1st interception of the year.

After an exchange of punts Thuc Phan of Page electrified the crowd with a 93 yard punt return for a TD to put Page up 14-7. Then with just over 3 minutes to go Ragsdale took the ball down the field with pinpoint passing by Romer. Ragsdale had a 4th and 1 at the Page 16 and Ragsdale went for it and Page jumped offsides to give Ragsdale a 1st down. After an incompletion Romer found Sonnricker for the TD 6 seconds before the half. Sonnricker was open most of the night. He lined up mostly in the slot and the LBer assigned to him had his eyes in the backfield and Sonnricker was able to get behind him. Page jumped off sides again and Coach Norwood went for two and Romer found Jenkins for the 2 point conversion to put Ragsdale up 15-14 at the half.

Another turning point in the game came early in the 2nd half as the Ragsdale offense was stopped on their 1st possessions and had to punt. Page took over however and the Ragsdale D sent them backwards. You could see the confusion with Page and everyone could see the momentum shift. From then on Page begin to play right into the Ragsdale game plan. Everyone knows how dangerous Page QB Will Newman can be. However after watching him on film all week around our house (and the houses of the whole defense)it was apparent Newman could beat you with his feet. The 1st Page TD was evidence of that. The Ragsdale strategy was to contain Newman and force him to throw the football. This turned out to be wise as they held Newman to 63 yards passing on 7-26 attempts.

Ragsdale got the ball back after an exchange of punts and after a short drive just past midfield, Romer again found Sonnricker all alone as he got behind the Page LBer for a 41 yard strike. Ragsdale was unsuccessful on the 2 point try and the score was 21-14. You could see the bigger and faster Page D beginning to tire as they were spending more time on the field and struggling to cover the Ragsdale receivers. Both teams exchanged punts until Page took over and drove down to the Ragsdale 18 yard line. However the Ragsdale D stiffened again and harrassed Newman into 2 misses and a big sack on 4th down. Newman was hurt on the 3rd down play and after playing on 4th down he would not return as he was knocked out of the game.

Ragsdale took over and gained 1 1st down on a nice pass to fullback Ed (Rat) Ross for his 1st catch of the year. However Page forced Ragsdale to punt and Page took over with 1:48 left and 2 timeouts. McCoy was now the QB for Page. He had a nice completion to get a 1st down however a terrible play came next. McCoy was forced out of the pocket by Keith Handford of Ragsdale and he was sacked by Handford and Ashworth. Handford stayed down on the ground and the game was stopped for 35 minutes. For some unknown reason there was not an ambulance at the game. From the time the play was stopped to the time an ambulance got there was 28 minutes. As it turned out Handford had a spiral fracture in his femur and was sent to surgery to get a rod put in his leg.

When play resumed with 1:25 Page had a nice gain on a McCoy completion. However on the next play the pass rush got to Page and Ashworth stepped in front and intercepted the McCoy toss. Ashworth was brought down on a nasty facemask while twisting his head. After the penalty Ragsdale was able to run out the clock.

The Page fans showed excellent sportsmanship when the Ragsdale player was hurt. What many people were asking was why there was not an ambulance at the game, or at least some EMT’s and why it took the ambulance almost 30 minutes to get on site? Especially after the death of Matt Gfeller from the Page Reynolds contest. Handford was in terrible pain and had to lay there for almost 30 minutes.

Page is as good as advertised. Page has a very quick defense, and a top quality QB in Will Newman. There were several turning points in the game. Newman set the tone early with his long run for the opening score. Sparks interception and long return which set up the 1st Ragsdale TD changed the momentum and slowed the Page offense down. Phan’s punt return for 93 yards was a thing of beauty. The drive just before half and Sonnricker’s leaping catch and the succcessful 2 point conversion sent a message to Page that they were in a ball game. Then when Romer and Sonnricker hooked up again to give Ragsdale a 7 point lead it was all the Ragsdale D would need.

Lots of big plays by the Ragsdale D tonight. Great pass rush by Dan McNeil and Keith Handford (2 sacks). LBers Sparks (1 int, 1 sack, a TFL and 8 more tackles), Stone (1 TFL and 8 tackles) and the Ashworth twins, Jon and Josh ( 1 int, 2 sacks, several tackles and 3 big hits). The DBs came up and were tremendous in run support and made big plays and tons of tackles while shutting down the passing lanes. I agreed with Andy that Page would win this game however a near flawless game by Ragsdale provided the upset.

Going forward Ragsdale takes on their nemisis Grimsley who they haven’t beaten since the Reagan years and Page bounces back for the big showdown with Dudley. While Page came up short tonight, after watching the Dudley/Grimsley game, Page can beat Dudley. Not saying they will but they can. Page has the team speed to play with Dudley.