It was a great season of football across the mid-state but everything kicks up a notch come playoff time. The #3 seed Page Patriots traveled up from Williamson County to face the #2 seed Gallatin Green Wave in the opening round of the 5A state playoffs Friday night. High school playoffs are always emotional as one side will see their season and potentially their playing careers come to an end. The forecasted rain never arrived and it turned out to be a perfect night for football.
The first half of this game was defined by sloppy offensive play. The Gallatin Green Wave turned the ball over five times in the first half while Page added two turnovers of their own. Page cornerback Quincy Brock-Compton returned the second Green Wave fumble six yards to the endzone to put the Patriots up 7-0 early. Gallatin moved the ball well on almost every possession behind strong running from Ladarius Stewart and Jalen Porter but couldn’t hold onto the football long enough to cash in on any drive. Credit also goes to the Page defense for targeting the ball and applying some big hits on the Gallatin ball carriers.
On offense, the Patriots didn’t find too much success either. Page head coach Charles Rathbone protected his sophomore quarterback Cade Walker with some conservative play calling early and focused on the running game with Bubba Johnson. However, the Green Wave defense rose to the occasion each time the offense turned the ball over and held the Patriots out of the endzone. Bryson Stremler did tack on a field goal in the 2nd quarter to give Page the 10-0 lead at halftime.
The third quarter started out as more of the same for Gallatin. Two more turnovers, totaling seven for the night, gave Page the opportunity to extend their lead to 13-0 with another Byson Stremler field goal. Page held this lead into the 4th quarter but Gallatin was about to mount their counterattack. The Green Wave finally managed to sustain a long drive that was capped off by a strong Jalen Porter 12 yard touchdown run up the middle to cut the Patriot lead to 13-7 with just over 10:00 minutes to go in the game. Gallatin fully seized the momentum when Hunter Anderson made a great recovery of the ensuing onside kick by the Green Wave and set up his offense at the Page 25 yard line.
Speedy running back Ladarius Stewart was able to reach the edge on a sweep a few plays later and scored from 10 yards out to give Gallatin their first lead of the ballgame at 14-13. Page responded well to the adversity and seemed to open up their playbook in response. The Patriots’ offense that had struggled all night came alive with QB Cade Walker hitting receivers Quaid Lamont and Will Pierce on key third down conversions to move the ball deep into Green Wave territory. Will Pierce would make the biggest catch of the night when he went up and snagged a 50-50 ball for the 12 yard touchdown catch. Walker would find TE Sam Cramer for a successful 2-point conversion attempt to regain the lead 21-14.
Gallatin started the next drive at their 20 yard line after the touchback needing a touchdown to extend the game. They had found little success through the air all night but quarterback Ander Sloan hooked up with Collin Minor and Sirtavious Perry before Ladarius Stewart plunged into the endzone from 1 yard out to tie the game at 21-21. Page was unable to answer in regulation and the game moved to overtime after a very entertaining four quarters.
The Green Wave went on offense first and used their first three downs to move the ball down to the one yard line. Coach Mark Williams elected to go for the touchdown but Stewart was stuffed at the goal line and unfortunately injured on the play. He had to be taken off the field on a stretcher but was moving his arms and legs. Best of luck to Ladarius for his health and recovery. The Gallatin defense now had to stop Page from scoring any points to force another overtime round. Power running back Bubba Johnson had other ideas though. Johnson took the handoff up the middle and pulled defenders behind him toward the goal line before stretching the ball across for the game winning score. Page had come into hostile territory and left with a 27-21 win. Page will now travel to Summit in round two in a rematch from earlier this year. Summit won that early season matchup 35-17.
Quotes from the game
-Page WR Will Pierce on rematch with Summit: “We just have to come out and execute. We had a flat week of practice that week. We weren’t firing on all cylinders. We have to come out and not start out slow. We should be ready.”
-Page DL Johnathan Harris on what worked for the defense tonight: “Just flowing. Playing as a team, working hard and getting to the ball.”
-Page Coach Charles Rathbone on sophomore QB Cade Walker: “He did a great job. Made a few questionable throws but we made plays when it counted.”