The Page High School Patriots football team survived a back-and-forth battle with the Mount Juliet High School Golden Bears, 42-39, to secure a berth in the TSSAA 5A quarterfinals Friday night.
The Golden Bears (9-3) jumped out to a 10-0 lead early, only to see the Patriots respond with 21 unanswered points in the second quarter to lead 21-10 at the half.
Patriot running back Caden Walker’s 11-yard touchdown run with 4:45 left to play in the quarter started the scoring. The awakened Patriot offense followed that up with a seven-yard run by quarterback Colin Hurd and a sack-fumble recovered by Jase Hoath provided two scores in the final minute.
“We have been in big games before; we didn’t panic," Patriot head coach Charles Rathbone said. “Our guys just started making plays. They were a little bit aggressive early, trying to do too much. Colin was trying to do too much. We just started trying to run the ball and get some positive yards and just kind of build off of that.”
Walker led the way for the Patriots on the ground with 25 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns on the evening.
The Patriots (10-2) needed more big plays in the second half and got them.
Mount Juliet would score twice in the third quarter on consecutive blocked punts by Dearrius Morton, one of which he scored himself, and gave the lead back to Mount Juliet 24-21 with 10:20 left to play in the third quarter.
“We have just got to get a better snap, get our timing, and block better up front,” Rathbone said. “It’s a lot of things we’ve got to get better at. We will work on it this week and fix it.”
On the next drive, which started at the Golden Bears 33-yard line, Page got two big plays from two of its seniors to retake the lead. First a 16-yard conversion on 4th-and-8, then, a 14-yard touchdown pass from Hurd to wide receiver Boyce Smith.
Smith ended the night as the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
After forcing a Mount Juliet punt, Walker added a 29-yard touchdown run to stretch the lead to 11, 35-24, early in the fourth quarter.
Mount Juliet answered with a touchdown and two-point conversion to pull within three points, 35-32, with 8:20 left the play.
The ensuing drive by the Patriots saw Hurd connect with senior wide receiver Max Collins on a long pass play, which set up a Brenden Anes touchdown run to give the Patriots a 42-32 lead with 5:43 remaining in the contest.
Hurd, who finished the night 13-19 for 186 yards and two touchdowns, served as the calm and tough leader the Patriots needed once again.
“He made some big throws for us all year, he has done a good job,” Rathbone said. “We have just got to be more consistent [around him].”
Despite the score, the Patriot defense played well. They recorded four sacks, including two by Eric Hazzard, to go along with the Hoath touchdown.
The Golden Bears scored again on a 29-yard wide receiver reverse pass to give the game its final margin.
The win sets up a rematch with region foe Nolensville High School, which comes into the game undefeated (12-0). The Knights defeated the Patriots 27-21 in overtime back on Oct. 7.
“We need to go back and see what we think we can do offensively to help our defense out a little bit,” Rathbone said. “We played a very bad game the first game. Hopefully, we can sure some things up and make a few more plays.”
The Patriots will once again be on the road next week when they take on the Knights in Nolensville at 7 p.m. for chance a to make it to the 5A semifinals for the second straight year.
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