By MICHAEL CURTIS | Photos by KINDELL BUCHANAN
HUNTINGTON LEARNING CENTER GAME OF THE WEEK
Coming off a 28-14 win against Fairview in the “Battle of 840,” Page aimed to maintain an incredible start to the season. They did exactly that.
The Patriots (2-0) came out with a 43-13 victory in their home opener against the Nolensville Knights (0-2).
The star of the night was Page sophomore running back Don “Bubba” Johnson, who finished with 190 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Nolensville junior quarterback Brandon Wharton II finished 10-for-27 with 173 passing yards and three interceptions.
“All of the credit goes to my offensive line,” Johnson said. “They executed and they did what they were supposed to do and I promised them I’d do what I’m supposed to do.”
The Patriots received the ball on the first drive and it was clear that they wanted to establish their running game. After the first few drives, senior quarterback Jacob Van Landingham kept the ball for himself for a 7-yard touchdown that put Page up 7-0.
Nolensville countered with a 7-yard touchdown run of its own when Wharton II carried the ball into the end zone, which tied the game at seven.
However, Page’s offense wasn’t the only key to its success. The unit smothered Nolensville and limited its ground game to only 46 yards. After catching three interceptions last week, junior free safety Michael Burdick caught one more for the Patriots.
“It kind of just shifted the momentum, which was the same thing he did last week,” Page head coach Charles Rathbone said. “My gosh, he’s a special player. He’s a ball hawk. It’s hard to put into words what that momentum does, but we have to get to a point to where we don’t count on that and execute offensively.”
He caught a second interception, but it was negated due to a penalty. His impact on defense was imperative, giving the offense the boost they needed.
“When our defense steps up and puts our offense in a good situation, we have the momentum and we’re going to go down and score,” Burdick explained. “When our offense really isn’t there all the way and we get big stops like we did today, it helps a lot.”
Sometimes, Nolensville just couldn’t get out of its own way. In the second quarter, there was an illegal kicking penalty called on the Knights, which resulted in a safety. That pushed the score to 16-10, Page.
From then, the game got out of hand. Two Johnson touchdowns later, as well as one more touchdown run by Landingham, and the lead was 36-10. A 24-yard touchdown run by Luke Bowers with 5:44 remaining in the game made the final score official.
Page faces Franklin County (2-0) at home next week as it aims to maintain its undefeated record. Nolensville will visit Spring Hill (2-0).