The Independence High School Eagles spoiled Page High Patriots perfect season with a 49-38 win at home Friday on Senior Night.
The Independence (4-5, 2-2) offense clicked all night, senior quarterback Joe Cummings leading the way. He finished with 20 completions on 33 attempts for 368 yards and 3 touchdowns in a shootout with the Patriots.
“Joe did a great job for us tonight," Blade said. “Those were two great quarterbacks that were dueling it out. I am just glad that we could be on the good side of things, and definitely, the quarterbacks put on a show tonight.”
Independence moved to 3-0 all-time against Page. The previous win coming in 2011 and 2012, but this was the first under Blade.
“It was a big win for us, it’s been a few weeks since we've had that taste in our mouths,” Independence head coach Scott Blade said. “It was nice to get our kids a big win against a county team we haven't played in a while. That was, obviously, an undefeated team and doing really well so, big win for or seniors and program tonight for sure.”
Independence scored on their opening drive, thanks to a 15-yard reception to receiver Jack Rummel from Cummings.
Independence forced a punt on the next possession, but Cummings threw an interception on the next play. His first of two on the evening.
Page drove down and tied the game on a 2-yard run by sophomore running back Ethan Cunningham, 7-7 with 2:29 left to play in the first quarter.
Independence answered with a quick drive of its own and a 1-yard touchdown by Tre Hartwell in the final seconds of the opening frame. He finished with 15 carries for 100 yards and 3 scores on the evening.
McNamara converted a fourth down connecting with wide receiver Michael Meyer on a 35-yard reception for a touchdown on the Patriots next drive to tie it up at 14.
Cummings drove the Eagles right back down the field before finding senior receiver River Katina on a 10-yard pass that he broke for a 55-yard touchdown to give Independence a 20 -14 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the half.
One of Indy’s few defensive stops came in the next possession when the Eagles got pressure on McNamara, and a third down sack caused a Page Patriots punt.
Cummings took advantage on the drive, hitting Katina and Ohio State commit Ty Lockwood for first downs, which set up a 25-yard touchdown by Hartwell. Cummings converted the 2-point conversion to put the Eagles up two scores, 28-14, with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.
McNamara led the Patriots down into the red zone but had to settle for a field goal to make the score 28-17 at halftime.
“Getting a stop and then holding them to a field goal was a big boost for us because we knew that we had a little bit of an edge going into halftime,” Blade said.
Page head coach Charles Rathbone praised the Eagles’ performance, saying that despite the record, which included losses to private schools, CPA, Pope John Paul II and undefeated Summit, they had some really good players and faced three or four of the top five teams in the state regardless of classification.
“They have got some really good players, lots of speed, they played well, we didn't,” Rathbone said. “We couldn't get a stop, they got one or two, and that was the difference."
But Page never quit fighting.
Page scored a touchdown on its on its opening drive of the second half, thanks to a 10-yard pass from McNamara to junior wide receiver Boyce Smith which made the score 28-24.
A drive with long receptions by Rummel and Lockwood, a big third-down conversion by Katina and a short Hartwell scoring run allowed the Eagles to regain a two-score lead late in the third quarter.
Independence never relinquished it.
Rummel added his second touchdown on a 22-yard reception from Cummings early in the fourth to widen the margin to 42-24. He finished with nine catches for 144 yards and 2 scores.
McNamara found Smith's for a second time as well in the quarter, but Katrina returned the ensuing onside kick attempt for a touchdown 50 yards to thwart any hopes of a comeback.
Katina had six catches for 111 yards and the two total scores on Senior Night.
The Eagles defense gave up a long touchdown late when wide receiver Cason Walker got behind the secondary to make the final score a bit closer.
Page will close out the regular season with Lincoln County on the road next week, while Independence will face Ravenwood next week in a game with playoff implications.
“Ravenwood, it's always a big matchup," Blade said. “It's nice that it still means something, as far as playoff seeding and momentum going into the playoffs, so we got a big tough environment going into next week for sure.”