By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, Sept. 16 — In a hard-hitting, sometimes testy rivalry matchup on Friday night, the Luray Bulldogs came away with a 35-12 win over the Page Panthers. The victory marked the first Bull Run District win for the Bulldogs, who remain undefeated. The loss marked the second in the district for Page in their home opener at Buddy Comer Stadium.
As expected, both teams relied heavily on their ground game as Luray broke things open early on a 72-yard breakaway touchdown run by senior Brady Jenkins on their second play from scrimmage. One minute into the game, the Bulldogs held a 7-0 lead.
The Panthers would answer back with a methodical, grinding ground attack behind their huge offensive line that chewed up 56 yards on 13 plays. Senior Ty Davis plunged into the end zone from two yards out to cap off the drive. A failed two-point attempt left the score at 7-6.
Each team would end up punting on their next two possessions, although Luray was able to pick up a couple of first downs while Page went three-and-out twice. Midway through the second quarter penalties pushed the Panthers deep into their own territory, and the Bulldogs were able to return the ensuing punt back to Page’s 9-yard-line to set up first and goal. On the second play of the short drive, senior Kenny Frye carried the rock into the end zone from six yards out, giving Luray a 14-6 advantage.
Again, Page answered right back. The Panthers put together a seven-play drive covering 57 yards that ended with a score in dramatic fashion. Facing a fourth and 13 situation, senior quarterback Hayden Plum hit senior Jacob Martz for a 28-yard touchdown strike. The two-point attempt failed, leaving the score at 14-12 with just over three minutes left in the first half.
Luray would fumble the ensuing kickoff and give Page the ball on the Bulldog 40-yard line. However, after Page picked up one first down, Jenkins intercepted a pass for the Bulldogs and sprinted 71 yards for the “pick six.” A totally unnecessary unsportsmanlike conduct call against Luray turned an extra point attempt into a 35-yard field goal, but the sure-footed sophomore Jakob Choat hit the PAT to make the score 21-12 just before halftime.
A total of 13 penalties were called in the first half — eight against Page and five against Luray, with two of the Bulldogs’ penalties coming on unsportsmanlike conduct calls. Three motion or offsides were called back-to-back-to back on the Panthers’ first offensive series, two of those were also against the ‘Dawgs.
More than a half dozen more penalties would be whistled during the game, especially late in the third quarter and during the fourth quarter as the rivalry game began to unravel and get even more “chippy” with unsportsmanlike conduct calls on both sides.
Following a three-and-out by Page to open the second half, Luray took its first possession 45 yards in just six plays as freshman Cason Bryant capped off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run. Choat’s PAT gave Luray a 28-12 lead with over seven minutes left in the third.
The last score of the game came on Luray’s next possession as the Bulldogs went 55 yards on five plays and increased their lead to 35-12 after another 2-yard touchdown run by Frye.
As substitutions were made freely and emotions began to boil over, the rest of the game was a bit sloppy.
Luray was able to put together a 10-play drive early in the fourth quarter that started deep in their own territory. However, the drive stalled when a Bulldog fumble was recovered by Davis. Luray had trouble on the center-quarterback exchange on several plays during the game as starting Luray center, senior Alex Heglar, was out with an injury.
While both rival teams could have done a better job to “Keep your composure” — as PCHS senior Logan Lucas yelled to his team during a fourth-quarter timeout — it was a hard-fought, hard-hitting, well-played game on both sides of the ball.
Once again for the Panthers, the score may not indicate how close the game was at one point. Page’s three losses this season have seen a tough effort by the underdog in the first half, followed by a let down in the second half — and the scores of those losses (38-0, 35-2, 35-12) — do not truly indicate the potential that the Panthers hold in a three-year starting quarterback and a massive offensive/defensive line.
For the Bulldogs, Friday night was not their best performance, but Luray continued to show dominance on the ground offensively. The third-year tandem of Jenkins and Frye has been hard for opponents to stop, but the competition level will rise as the ‘Dawgs host regionally dominant Stuarts Draft in two weeks.
With the win, Luray remains perfect on the season at 3-0 and will travel to Front Royal to take on Skyline next Friday night in a non-district matchup.
With the loss, Page falls to 1-3 with two losses in the Bull Run District. Next Friday, the Panthers travel to Madison County to take on the Moutaineers.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.
BROADCAST NOTE: Apologies to those anticipating the PVN Sports crew commentary during Friday night’s NFHS livestream of the Panthers/Bulldogs game. Technical difficulties kept the audio feed from coming through on the livestream, and those issues could not be resolved during the game.
PVN Sports plans to get back into action in two weeks at Bulldog Field, when Luray hosts Stuarts Draft.
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How about the disgusting remarks made to the page boys from the luray boys! Sick!