As if the state championships could not get any more exciting, this year’s 5A game is a rematch of last year in a game that West dominated 47-13. After a year of thinking about that loss, Page was not about to lie down this time around.
West started the game off with a pick by Syxx Hoard but was not able to capitalize due to a goal line stand by the Patriots. Despite the pick Page Quarterback, Jonathan Palmer, (Yes actually, related to Carson) must have liked something he saw because he went right back to a deep shot down the left sideline and this time hits his receiver, Isaac Power, who cuts back to make a few Rebels miss and walks into the endzone. That was all the action in the first quarter, and we went to the second with Page leading.
The slide for West continued as Quarterback, Hunter Dance, threw a pass in the middle of four Page defenders and was intercepted. It seemed that Page may go make it a 14-0 lead early, but the West defense stood strong and turned over the Patriots on downs near midfield. West capitalized on this short field with a Marshaun Bowers touchdown run to tie the game with seven minutes left in the half. That fourth down stop energized the West defense that had already gotten a pick earlier before giving up the touchdown and Hoard intercepted Palmer again on the ensuing drive. This gave them a short field for their second straight drive, but this time they were held to a field goal. West had found the gear they were missing early and found a groove. They got the ball back and standing near midfield on the last play of the first half, Dance unleashed a bomb to the endzone that was miraculously hauled in by Conner Cummings. West scored 17 unanswered points including the touchdown on the last play of the half and took a 17-7 lead into the break.
West wasted no time going right back to deep ball specialist Conner Cummings as he made a leaping grab in the endzone as West doubled up in the middle eight minutes and took a 24-7 lead. As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Patriots Syxx Hoard tallied his third interception of the night on Page’s next drive. However, things started to look up for Page as they got the ball back and scored on a misdirection play where William Wiebush took a direct snap around the right end for a touchdown. The PAT was missed, but Pats weren’t done as they forced a West punt and scored again in short order, cutting the lead to 24-19.
With 3:13 remaining in the game Page received a punt right at midfield. The Patriots had three minutes and 50 yards to win the championship. (Where have you heard that before?) After moving the ball all the way down to the five-yard line, Page was left with 46 seconds left in the game. They called their last time out to get everything in order for these last few plays that would determine the 5A champion.
Being out of timeouts running the ball was almost completely out of the question unless you were willing to spike the ball and burn a potential championship winning play, but in what seemed like coaching malpractice in clock management, Page ran the ball up the middle and found no room but did not spike it on the next down. As the clock ran, so did Page on second down with a speed option to the outside. West swallowed up that play as well and as precious seconds ticked off the clock the ball was reset by the officials, and it became clear that Page was only going to get one more play off. The game was going to end on this third down. Snap to Palmer, he rolls left, he has blockers in front of him but no it’s a jump pass! Incomplete. West had won the 5A state title 24-19 and who else was in the area defending but Syxx Hoard.