After back-to-back state runner-up finishes the past two seasons, Wake Forest hoped this would be the year it would break through and get that NCHSAA 4AA football title.
Instead, Friday marked an earlier-than-expected ending to the Cougars’ season as visiting Page overcame a double-digit deficit for a stunning 30-21 victory in a 4AA second-round game.
Page quarterback Will Jones passed for 247 yards and two touchdowns, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Javon Leake with 1 minute, 33 seconds left in the second quarter to put the Pirates ahead to stay, 21-14. Page (11-2) sealed the victory with 3:04 remaining in the fourth quarter on Harrison Kizer’s 32-yard field goal that provided the game’s final points.
Wake Forest (12-1), which had lost in the 4AA final to Mallard Creek each of the past two seasons, had built an early 14-0 lead against the Pirates.
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Shy’heem Mitchell scored on a 16-yard run with 6:53 remaining in the first quarter, capping a two-play, 18-yard drive following a Page turnover, to put Wake Forest ahead 7-0. Early in the second quarter, the Cougars made it 14-0 when Devon Lawrence scored on a 4-yard run with 10:56 left.
Wake Forest’s offense dried up after that, while Page’s offense kicked it into another gear, particularly with the passing game.
Jones connected on a 34-yard touchdown pass to Diondre Overton to get Page within 14-7 with 8:34 left in the second quarter, then Page needed just one play to knot the score at 14 when Overton scored on a 1-yard fumble return after his teammate Leake fumbled following a 4-yard run. That play followed a 28-yard interception return by Jamie Myers off a tipped pass from Wake Forest quarterback Chris James.
The teams traded possessions before Jones found a wide-open Leake for the go-ahead score for Page. Jones was 12 of 20 passing for 189 yards in the first half alone.
Page made it 27-14 early in the third quarter on Elijah Diarrassouba’s 5-yard touchdown run with 8:17 left. After a quick three-and-out by Wake Forest, it appeared Page might add to its lead.
However, Wake Forest’s Javon Terry intercepted a tipped pass 43 yards for a touchdown to bring the Cougars within 27-21. The Cougars, though, would only muster one first down the rest of the way.