After trailing 16-3 at halftime the Page Pirates went on a mission and used their determination to send an East Forsyth Homecoming crowd home disappointed as the Pirates emerged victorious 20-19 on Friday night in Kernersville.
The Pirates struggled offensively early, and on their second possession, the Eagles blocked Thomas Murray’s punt because of an errant snap. The ball rolled into the end zone and the Eagles took the lead 2-0.
East Forsyth took advantage of getting the ball back after the safety, and on the fifth play of the drive and with 4:14 remaining in the first quarter, Eagles quarterback Brandon Bullins found Jarel Henry for a 41-yard touchdown to put his team ahead by nine.
The Eagles’ domination continued in the second quarter when Khalid Martin intercepted Javondre Paige and returned the ball for a touchdown, putting East Forsyth ahead 16-0.
The Eagles were making few mistakes and hitting all cylinders.
Page finally got on the board at the end of the second quarter when the Pirates made it to the red zone for the first time in the game. Although they didn’t reach the end zone, Thomas Murray booted a 37-yard field goal to put his team ahead.
Coach Jared Rolfes claimed he didn’t say much at halftime, but his brief message must’ve hit home to his players.
“Our defense,” he said, “the best in the state in my opinion, continues to carry us.”
Whether it was Rolfes’ halftime encouragement or the determination to win, something sparked the Pirates and they came back in the third quarter looking like the strong Page team we’ve seen all year.
The Pirates first touchdown of the game came with 2:15 to play in the 3rd quarter when Javondre Paige hooked up with Assad Alston from five yards out, decreasing the Eagles’ lead to 6.
The fourth quarter proved exciting for everyone, especially the last three-and-a-half minutes when the crowd remained on its feet.
Javondre Paige rushed five yards to the end zone to give the Pirates their first lead of the game, capping off an eight play, 62-yard drive after Paige had thrown his third interception of the game on the previous drive.
After the Paige touchdown run, the Pirates gave up a 60-plus yard return on the ensuing kickoff to the Eagles Jaelon Maxie, whose run put the Eagles on the Pirates 18-yard line. The defense Rolfes referred to was there to back up the mistakes on special teams and held the Eagles to a field goal. That field goal, made with 1:19 to play by Cameron Lischke, gave the Eagles the lead, 19-17.
Lischke put the ensuing kickoff into the end zone and Page started their final drive with a mere 1:19 to play on their own 20-yard line. The Pirates made it to their 40-yard line and after a reception by Naseem Alston that gave the Pirates a first down to continue the drive. On the next play Paige hooked up with Nick Baker for 38 yards, then the Eagles were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that set the Pirates up on the East Forsyth seven yard line.
There was hardly a doubt that Thomas Murray would miss the game winning three-pointer.
His 23-yard field goal with 12.9 seconds remaining gave the Pirates a 20-19 lead – a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“I have to give props to my offensive coordinator, Coach Hall, because he called every one of the plays on the last drive,” Rolfes said. “I told him, ‘Go ahead man, I’m not doing a very good job’.’’
“This is a special victory, a special group. Page is a special place and I’m glad to be here.”
Rolfes shook his head and smiled when asked about his kicker.
“Unbelievable,” he said of Murray. “We were excited for him to be able to kick that winner.”
Murray was just as pumped as his coach after the win.
“It’s huge,” Murray said of his game-winning field goal. “This improves my confidence a lot.”
The Pirates move to (6-1) on the season with the victory, and East Forsyth falls to (4-2) on the year with the loss. Page will begin conference play on October 13th as they take on Northwest Guilford at R.L Billings Stadium, the former home of Coach Jared Rolfes, for Northwest’s homecoming game. The Pirates will look to spoil an opposing team’s homecoming two weeks in a row and keep their winning streak alive.
(EF) Safety- Blocked punt rolled through end zone
(EF) Jarel Henry 41 pass from Brandon Bullins (Cameron Lischke kick)
(EF) Khalid Martin INT return (Lischke kick)
(Pag) Thomas Murray 37 Field Goal
(Pag) Assad Alston 5 pass from Javondre Paige (Murray kick)
(Pag) Paige 5 run (Murray kick)
(EF) Lischke 28 Field Goal
(Pag) Murray 23 Field Goal
PAGE STAT LEADERS:
Javondre Paige: (10-26) 97yds, TD, 3INT ; 13 rush 37yds, TD
Sincere Davis: 16 rush 83yds
Assad Alston: 4 rec 57yds, TD
Naseem Alston: 3 rec 41yds
Thomas Murray (2-2) FG (37,23) ; (2-2) PAT’s