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September 7, 2013CHARLOTTE - It was a matchup of the past two 4AA state champions as the Page Pirates (1-2) traveled from Greensboro down to Charlotte to take on the Butler Bulldogs (2-1). With each team coming into the game with a record of 1-1, this game was critical for both teams to get some momentum with conference season looming around the corner. Butler came rushing out of the gates with scores on their first two plays from scrimmage on their way to a 56-14 victory.
Butler, with "Dawgs" written across their red home jerseys, caught the opening kickoff at the 5 and returned it to the 45 yard line. Page started the game with two encroachment penalties, giving the Bulldogs the ball in Pirate territory right off the bat. Butler, looking to make up for a minimal offensive performance the previous week, started the game off with a 45 yard touchdown pass from Anthony Ratliff to Benjamin LeMay on the first play from scrimmage. Before the still arriving fans could find their seats, Butler had a 7-0 lead.
Page was unable to get a first down on their first drive, punting it back to Butler. The Bulldogs took immediate advantage on the next play with junior quarterback Anthony Ratliff faking a handoff to a running back and keeping it, outrunning two Page defenders on the way to the end zone. With two plays from scrimmage, Butler had a 14-0 lead over the Pirates. "That was the game plan going in, having a fast paced offense and keeping the ball moving," Ratliff said after the game.
Page showed why they are still a strong contender on their next drive, moving the chains in a quick fashion, with a mix of runs and passes. Senior running back Anthony Capel got the Pirates in the end zone with a 25 yard touchdown scamper. Only four minutes into the game, three touchdowns had been scored and Butler led 14-7.
Butler started the next possession at their own 35, but field position mattered little as the Bulldogs still were able to find the end zone after three plays and a 56 yard touchdown pass to Jordan James. Less than halfway through the first quarter, Butler led 21-7 and would not look back.
After forcing the Pirates to punt, the Bulldogs started their next possession around midfield. Even when it seemed like Page had stopped the Bulldog offense for once, Butler ran a fake punt on fourth down and Anthony Ratliff found Clifton Duck in the end zone for a 36 yard touchdown. At the end of the first quarter, Butler held a commanding 28-7 lead.
In the second quarter, Page was able to move the ball and found themselves in the red zone after a 23 yard pass to Jalen Gavin. Much of Coach Kevin Gillespie's offense ran through the senior running back. "He's a great kid with a lot of heart; we just got to give him a bit of help," Gillespie commented after the game. Gavin put the Pirates on the scoreboard again in the second quarter when he found the goal line on a two yard run.
The score seemed to give some life to a Page team that was shell shocked by the quick early scores by Butler. The Page defense finally awakened in the second quarter, stopping Butler and forcing them to punt from their own end zone, but the Pirate offense was unable to take advantage of the big defensive stand, failing to convert on a fourth down at the Bulldogs' 24 yard line.
After the two teams traded punts late in the second quarter, Butler took back over at midfield with about a minute left and drove down the field. With five seconds left in the half, Butler coach Brian Hales decided to go for the end zone instead of a field goal and Ratliffe found Jordan Huntley on a 8 yard touchdown pass as time expired in the half, giving the Bulldogs a 35-14 lead at intermission.
Page received the second half kickoff, but was unable to mount any type of drive. A bad snap on a punt attempt gave Butler the ball at the Pirate 17 yard line. Jordan Huntley carried the ball down to the 4, making way for Benjamin LeMay to score two plays later to give the Bulldogs a 42-14 lead.
After the teams traded possessions, Page was looking to get some momentum, but, Butler's Clifton Duck had a big interception and ran it back to the Page 19 yard line. "You can put him (Duck) anywhere the kid does everything," Coach Hales mentioned about his senior all-purpose player. After an illegal procedure penalty wiped out a potential scoring run, Benjamin LeMay took two handoffs up the middle for a score giving Butler a 49-14 lead in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs weren't done scoring in the third quarter as quarterback Anthony Ratliff found an open seam and scooted sixty yards for another touchdown run for the final score of the game. "You have to always expect the best when you run the ball like that I saw the open field and had to put it into another gear," Ratliff said after the game.
Page tried to make something happen early in the fourth quarter, but Butler's Isaac Stewart was there for the Bulldogs, stopping a key third down run down inside the 20. Coach Hales talked about his defense after the game, "we needed to be more aggressive we're young and need to build confidence. This was a great game for them."
Page's star defensive lineman Lorenzo Featherston did not play due to injury. "He had a high groin strain and has been playing through it, but he wasn't getting any better and we were worried we could lose him for the entire season. I held him out, trying to help him get healed. It's a long season and we need him," Coach Gillespie noted after the game.
Ratliff led the Butler offense with 202 passing yards and 128 rushing yards. Ratliff threw for four scores and ran for two more. Benjamin LeMay added two scores on the ground and one receiving for the Bulldogs. The Butler defense, led by linebacker Isaac Stewart and defensive back Clifton Duck held a powerful Page offense to only fourteen points. "I'm very pleased with our team's play tonight. We're inexperienced and we're going to have some peaks and valleys tonight was a step forward for our team," Coach Hales said after the game.
Both teams are on the road next week Butler travels to Winston-Salem to take on Mount Tabor while Page will be playing at county rival Ragsdale.
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