Page’s comeback fell a little short this time.
One week after a stunning comeback win in the semifinals, the Patriots lost to Powell 42-34 in the BlueCross Bowl.
Jake McNamara’s final pass was knocked down in the end zone as time expired, giving the Patriots (13-2) a runner-up finish in Class 5A at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga on Friday night.
McNamara’s 32-yard pass to Max Collins fell incomplete for a sad ending to Page’s first appearance in the state championship.
“We had six seconds, so we were hoping we could get enough protection and get somebody downfield and maybe somebody would jump and get the ball,” Patriots coach Charles Rathbone said. “It didn’t work out, but at least we gave ourselves a chance and that’s kind of been the story all year long.”
Page rallied from two 17-point deficits to beat Henry County last week.
The game lived up to its billing as a battle between star quarterbacks.
McNamara completed 32 of 56 for 291 yards and four touchdowns with one interception despite Powell’s menacing pass rush.
“He played well tonight,” Rathbone said of the Colorado State commit. “He’s going to be something special at the next level.”
McNamara finished his career with 3,581 passing yards and 43 TDs.
Panthers junior Jordyn Potts completed 24 of 30 for 324 yards and four TDs.
Powell (13-2) sacked McNamara six times.
“(Walter Nolen) is the No. 1 defensive lineman in the nation,” Rathbone said. “When No. 1 wanted to play, he was unblockable. I felt like we ran tempo quite a bit and we could get him gassed, but obviously he’s an elite talent.”
Nolen is second in the nation for all players the Class of 2022 and is committed to play at Texas A&M.
Powell seemed ready to clinch the game when Carson Whitehead returned an interception 18 yards to the Page 13 with a 42-27 lead with 3:02 left.
But the Panthers turned the ball over on downs, keeping Page’s hopes alive.
Page marched downfield quickly and McNamara’s 13-yard TD pass to Boyce Smith narrowed the gap to 42-34 with 49 seconds remaining.
Jordan Rutland recovered an onside kick at the Powell 49, giving the Patriots a chance for another dramatic comeback.
McNamara got the Patriots within striking distance and a chance to tie the game in six plays, but came up short.
“I think our boys carried themselves well throughout the game and they played hard,” Rathbone said. “What the seniors have done for this program is amazing and I’m proud of them.”
The seniors won three of the last four region titles.
Powell seized a 21-0 lead after the first quarter, but Page rallied to narrow the deficit to 21-20 by halftime.
The Panthers increased their lead to 35-20 late in the third quarter, but the Patriots cut the gap to 35-27 early in the fourth quarter.
Smith, named after the legendary Springfield football coach, caught two TD passes.
Powell was penalized 15 times for 170 yards, but still won its first state title after finishing second twice.
“I’m so proud of these kids and coaches,” Panthers coach Matt Lowe told My TV 30. “A lot of people went into making this happen and at the end these kids found a way to win and that’s what it’s all about.”