The Page Pirates battled through an onslaugh of penalties and turnovers in the first round game of the 2016 NCHSAA 4-AA playoffs, beating Charlotte’s Olympic Trojans by a score of 39-14 Friday night.
In his first game back from a high ankle sprain, Javon Leake rushed for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns, providing the majority of Page’s offense.
It was the efforts of the special teams for the Pirates that led them to victory and a berth in the second round next week. The Pirates had two blocked punts that both led to touchdowns and a punt return by Tarvris Martin for a score.
The Pirates’ night didn’t start well when, on their first play from scrimmage, Will Jones’s pass was intercepted by Olympic’s Gee Dulin. The interception led to a touchdown just two plays later as Ramaine Lyons ran 28 yards to give the Trojans the lead.
On the Trojan’s next possession, they were held by the Pirate defense and forced to punt. Tarvris Martin returned the punt 38 yards with help from two teammates who laid heavy hits while opening holes for Martin.
Martin, a senior, said he knew he had to step up with his team trailing.
“I knew that since we were down 7-0, someone had to make a big play, change the tone of the game, and that a way to do it,” he said.
It wouldn’t be the last time that the Pirates would go to the well and get scores on special teams.
Tyler DeBerry recovered a fumbled snap on a punting attempt by the Trojans in the second quarter in the end zone, and the Pirates also blocked another punt that led to a touchdown.
On a night when the offense that has averaged almost 50 points a game during the regular season was struggling, it was the special teams that helped the Pirates advance to the second round.
Javon Leake made his presence known, however. The Maryland-commit who has missed the last three games finished the night after re-tweaking the ankle that had him sidelined for those games. He rushed for touchdowns of one, 14, and eight yards respectively. His exit came at the 2:29 mark of the third quarter, helped off the field by his coaches and trainers. He didn’t return.
Leake was positive after the game even though he sat out the final quarter.
“I’m just trying to get back in my rhythm,” Leake said. “I felt like we started out slow tonight and took this team for granted. This is a lesson for us and we can’t do that again.”
The player of the game was Tyler DeBerry. As usual, DeBerry was involved or near every play on defensive for the Pirates. His efforts were rewarded when he recovered the fumbled snap on a punt attempt by the Trojans in their end zone, resulting in a score. He was constantly applying pressure to Olympic quarterback Dylan Earney, and forced several incompletions and had a sack.
“It felt amazing, and that’s when we really started to get rolling,” DeBerry said of his touchdown. “I have to keep playing my same game now that I’m getting noticed more and not let it go to my head,” he added.
Penalties were aplenty and the men in stripes didn’t discriminate as both teams were called for infractions throughout the game. The worst of them coming when an Olympic player was ejected for throwing a punch and exited the stadium with his head down and his hands on his hips.
Will Jones had an off night, completing only three passes and throwing two interceptions, but had a three yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and broke free for a 63 yard run on the final play of the game. Simply said, an off night for Jones would be a good night for other quarterbacks.
Coach Kevin Gillespie said his Pirates played an “ugly” game, but was happy that the team was moving on to the second round.
“We’re still in it, that’s how I (feel), and other than that, there ain’t a whole lot to say,” Gillespie said. “Javon Leake gave great effort, which was expected.”
“It wasn’t pretty for us offensively all night. We kept shooting ourselves in the foot,” Gillespie added. “Our special teams were the difference. Thank goodness that we play three phases because the special teams were what won the game.”
The Pirates head coach praised the efforts of Tyler DeBerry as well.
“Man, he is a special player. When you don’t see him around the ball, it’s because he’s getting held and tackled to the ground. (DeBerry) is just one of those special players, and people tend to grab and hold him to block him.”
The Pirates have made it through the first round and are one step closer to the State Championship game and the title that is so greatly coveted by the team. They will play at home once again this coming Friday night and will look to correct mistakes and play better offense.
OLY: Romaine Lyons 28 run (kick failed)
PAGE: Tarvris Martin 38 punt return (Thomas Murray kick)
PAGE: Javon Leake 1 run (kick failed)
OLY: Damon Rouse 1 run (Rouse run)
PAGE: Leake 8 run (run failed)
PAGE: Tyler DeBerry fumble recovery (run failed)
PAGE: Leake 14 run (Murray kick)
PAGE: Will Jones 3 run (Murray kick)
OLYMPIC- 6 8 0 0 – 14
PAGE- 7 19 14 0 – 39
Javon Leake: 15 car 112yds, 3TD
Micah Gafford: 4 car 73yds
Will Jones: (3-15) 25yds 2INT ; 7car 79yds, TD
Ronald Polite: 2rec 17yds