Page County runs away from Generals with big second half

QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School’s football team took its first lead of the 2017 season against visiting Page County on Friday night. The end result for the Generals, however, was an all-too-familiar one.

Stonewall stayed competitive against its longtime Shenandoah District rival in the first half, trailing by a touchdown as both teams entered the break of the Generals’ homecoming contest. The second half belonged entirely to Page County, which reeled off 28 unanswered points over the final two quarters to roll to a 48-19 victory.

The loss was the 23rd in a row for the Generals, who haven’t won a game since beating the Panthers on Sept. 25, 2015.

“We don’t play a whole game, and I don’t know, I’m at a loss,” Stonewall first-year coach Pete Lampman said after his team fell to 0-7 overall and 0-5 in the Shenandoah District. “… Somebody’s gotta make a play. They had guys that made plays. We didn’t. The first half, both teams made plays, helluva game. The second half, they made plays, we didn’t make plays. That’s really what it boiled down to.

“It’s 20 years of losing, man,” he continued when asked if the Generals’ struggles to put a full four quarters together were mental. “I mean the last time they had a season that was even .500 around here, it’s been a while. It is a mental thing. It’s gotta be a mental thing.”

The Panthers (3-3, 1-3 Shenandoah), who snapped their own three-game losing streak with the win, ran all over the Generals in what was a matchup of two triple-option offenses. Page County picked up 449 of its 486 yards on the ground – including 282 yards in the second half – and averaged 11.2 yards per rush.

Senior quarterback William Hart did most of the damage for the Panthers, as he rushed 16 times for 141 yards and four touchdowns and completed 3 of 9 passes for 37 yards. Hart ran for nearly 100 yards and scored three times in the second half as Page turned a 20-13 halftime lead into a 48-13 rout.

“We just saw some things that they were doing off of some of our motions and movements and stuff and made some adjustments,” Panthers head coach Joey Soltis said.

“(Hart) did a great job reading the option in the second half, really made it hard for the handoff key to figure out what was going on. He did a very nice job of that.”

Page County began moving the ball at will on Stonewall on its fourth possession of the game starting late in the first quarter, but a pair of Panther fumbles led to 13 points for the Generals in the first half.

The Generals got on the board first when junior linebacker Udreka Claude found the end zone on a 16-yard scoop-and-score following a poor exchange on a Page County handoff with 5:49 left in the first quarter.

The Panthers countered with touchdown drives of 57, 38 and 65 yards that required a total of 11 plays to take a 20-6 lead midway through the second quarter. But a strip and fumble recovery by senior linebacker Drew Binion (seven tackles, two forced fumbles, fumble recovery) set up a quick Stonewall touchdown drive late in the first half to pull the Generals within a touchdown heading into halftime.

Senior quarterback Brendan Hoover hit Blake McCourt for a 29-yard pass down to the Page 13 on the Generals’ next play following the turnover, and Logen Patton – who led Stonewall with 105 yards rushing – found the end zone on the next play to cut the Panthers’ lead to 20-13.

“They fought hard, did good early on defense we tackled better. We created turnovers,” Lampman said of the first half. “… We stopped tackling as well later but we didn’t get down. We got down 20-6, we fought back and we scored and made it a touchdown game. But they didn’t quit. … And in the second half it was a completely different story.”

Following a Stonewall three-and-out to start the third quarter, Page County marched 76 yards on eight plays and capped the possession with Jerry Cubbage’s 8-yard touchdown run.

Hart then went on his scoring spree, finding the end zone on runs of seven, six and 20 yards on consecutive drives to blow the game open.

Stonewall was limited to just 79 yards of offense in the second half, most of which came on a late 61-yard touchdown drive that end with backup quarterback Austin Ritchie’s 2-yard sneak with 13 seconds left in the game.

On the night the Generals mustered only 165 yards of offense against a Page County defense that tallied three sacks and forced two second-half turnovers. Stonewall had 135 yards rushing on 39 carries, an average of 3.5 yards per rush.

“In defending the triple-option you have to be disciplined,” Soltis said, “and our kids were dead-on in their assignments.”

Cubbage carried six times for 98 yards for Page County, Caleb Varner rushed six times for 80 yards and a touchdown, and Trey Knight III added a 26-yard touchdown run for the Panthers.

Stonewall’s defense took a hit in the first half when Claude was ejected midway through the second quarter after a series of personal foul penalties were called on a single play.

Page County drew an initial flag when Claude, also a fullback, was picked up and slammed to the ground after the whistle on his five-yard carry. That penalty was offset by a Stonewall personal foul when Claude slammed the ball on the ground after being thrown to the turf, said Lampman, who called the penalty “ridiculous.” A third flag was thrown, and Claude was tossed, after he “said something” to a referee, Lampman said.

“It hurt us more at linebacker than it did at fullback,” Lampman said of losing Claude. “We’re already down, so that didn’t help matters.”

The Generals, who are already guaranteed a spot in the Region 1B playoffs due to a lack of teams, return to action this Friday with a road game at Stuarts Draft.