By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, March 13 — The Page County High School football team picked up a late, non-district opponent for this Saturday’s matchup, after Clarke County had to cancel Friday night’s scheduled contest due to COVID protocols.
PCHS Athletic Director Keith Cubbage hit the phones when the cancellation came in from Clarke, and he found a Pioneer District opponent that was willing to make the trip north to Page County. The Chargers of Bath County agreed to the late afternoon game on Saturday, but the beautiful weather would prove to be the only thing pleasant about the game.
The Chargers have a roster of only 18 players, and four of those couldn’t make the trip on Saturday. Of the 14 that did, about half are playing their first year of football, according to Coach Dillon Frye prior to the game.
Saturday’s game proved to be a good “tune-up” for the Panthers, who will end their short spring season with three games in the Bull Run District — the final two being the most crucial. Stonewall Jackson (0-3) is an improving team, and they have a few playmakers in senior Rion Dennison and quarterback Jacob Lemon. But when they host the Panthers for homecoming next week in Quicksburg, they will have their hands full and the Panthers will be the favorite. However, the Panthers (2-0) season will then come down to a road game at Strasburg (3-0) on March 26 and then hosting county-rival Luray (1-2).
On Saturday, the Panthers had their way with the undermanned Chargers, 45-6. Sophomore quarterback Hayden Plum accounted for four touchdowns on the day, running for three and throwing another to senior Canaan Pierce.
The two teams exchanged turnovers early, as Page blocked a punt and then the Chargers took away a fumble. But the Panthers quickly got going when Plum charged in from one-yard out, ending a four-play drive set up by the running of senior Andrew Lilly and junior Blake Turpin. After a Charger punt, Plum found the endzone again after a 27-yard scamper, and then on the next possession hit Pierce in stride for a 48-yard touchdown.
On their last drive before halftime, the Panthers were lead by Lilly, who carried the ball four times in the eight-play drive, including a six-yard touchdown run. Bath picked up their only first down of the half just before the horn after Page was called on two consecutive offside penalties. The Panthers lead 25-0 at the break.
In the third quarter, a 33-yard run by Lilly set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Plum — his fourth touchdown of the day. Sophomore running back Gunnar Strickler capped off the scoring for Page, including a breakaway run of over 70 yards.
As Page County began to substitute freely late in the second half, Bath County put together a drive in the fourth quarter that took over eight minutes and ended with quarterback Kamoy Stone finding the endzone for only the second time this season. The Chargers entered the game at 0-2, with losses to Narrows (59-0) and Eastern Montgomery (33-7). Bath hosts Parry McCluer in Pioneer District action on Saturday, March 20.
Page County will hit the road for two weeks, visiting Stonewall Jackson’s homecoming on Friday, March 19 and then challenging undefeated Strasburg on the Rams’ home turf Friday, March 26. The Panthers finale will come on April Fools Day — Thursday, April 1 — when the cross-county Bulldogs come to Page for a potentially decisive contest.
The PVN Sports “Players of the Game” were Page County’s sophomore quarterback Hayden Plum and senior Canaan Pierce. While Plum accounted for four touchdowns on the day, the one in which he connected with Pierce on for a 48-yard touchdown pass was truly the “Play of the Game.”
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