By Randy Arrington
LURAY, Sept. 10 — The Page County Panthers hung with the Storm of Staunton for three quarters on Friday night, but turnovers, penalties and big plays would give the visitors the edge and a 29-15 win on the road.
Page County opened the game with an impressive drive capped off by a 33-yard touchdown pass from junior Hayden Plum to senior Dylan Henlsey. The Panthers covered 63 yards on eight plays in the first 3:37 of the game. The PAT was no good after a bad snap, and Page took an early 6-0 lead.
After going three-and-out on their first two possessions, Staunton continued to struggle with snaps, pitches and general ball control until junior quarterback Walker Darby connected with senior Jaquante Scott for a 33-yard touchdown pass one minute into the second quarter. The Storm went 33 yards on six plays (really one play) to take the lead at 7-6.
Page kept grinding out its wishbone offense, but fumbled on its next two possessions. The Panther defense played a stellar game all night recording many tackles for loss, and kept the home team in the game. However, after the second Page fumble Staunton was able to put together a five-play, 50-yard drive that ended with a 29-yard pass again from Darby to Scott as the Storm jumped out to a 14-6 lead.
The Panthers answered back eight plays later when Plum crossed the goal line from one yard out. The touchdown was set up by pass completions to Hensley and junior Brett Paul Campbell. The PAT was no good, so Page still trailed by two, 14-12, heading into the locker room at halftime.
The first six minutes of the second half belonged to the Panthers as they perfectly executed an unexpected onside kick and drove 40 yards to set up a 20-yard field goal by senior Ryan Zimmerman. Despite the drive being plagued by five penalties, Page retook the lead 15-14, with 6:06 left in the third quarter.
On Staunton’s ensuing possession, Campbell ripped down an interception and gave Page good field position. However, another Panther fumble a few plays later would give Staunton first and goal. The Storm scored in two plays as senior Malek McKenzie plunged in from three yards out to put Staunton up 22-15 early in the fourth quarter.
After a three-and-out by Page, Staunton would score again on their next possession as McKenzie broke away on a 54-yard scamper and recorded his second touchdown of the fourth quarter.
Despite being able to move the ball on the ground and in the air, the Panthers would not be able to answer back. The Page defense was able to keep Darby and the Storm offense off-balance and playing behind the sticks for most of the first half. But the passing game got going for Staunton and big plays ruled the day, including two incredible catches in the end zone of 30-yards-plus and a 54-yard end run that beat the defense to the corner.
Page County (1-2) records the non-district loss after picking up a non-district win on Tuesday night against Nelson County. The game rescheduled from Sept. 3 was a lop-sided affair from the opening kickoff that Page ran back for a score. The Panthers lead 41-0 by halftime and went on to capture a 47-6 win. Page travels to county-rival Luray (2-0) next Friday, Sept. 17 for a key Bull Run District match-up.
Staunton (2-0) remains perfect on the season after an opening win over Covington 50-26 on Sept. 3. Next Friday, the Storm travel to Rockbridge County.
The PVN Sports broadcast crew selected
as the Blue Ridge Bank “Player of the Game” for the Panthers.
Malek McKenzie was selected as the “Player of the Game” for Staunton Storm.
To check schedules, rosters, results and standings for local high school sports,
see the Bull Run District website.