PLAYOFF PREVIEWS: Page Rematches Spring Hill; BGA Geared for Shootout with USJ

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Page and Spring Hill meet in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday, while Battle Ground Academy takes on University School of Jackson in the Division II-A quarterfinals.

See below for a closer look at those matchups:

Spring Hill (6-5) at Page (7-3), 7 p.m. Friday

With their wins in the Class 4A playoffs first round, the Spring Hill Raiders and Page Patriots will square off for the second time this season on Friday.

The game is a rematch from their Week 3 contest in which Page won 26-25 on a Bubba Johnson 5-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds left in the game. It was Spring Hill head coach Jay Emmons’ first loss as a Raider.

Both defenses struggled stopping the opposing offenses in their first matchup. Spring Hill gained 334 total yards behind big days from running back Dontae Smith (154 yards and a TD) and wide receiver Darrin Johnson (five catches, 111 yards and two TDs).

Bubba Johnson was the main man for Page with 109 rushing yards and two scores, and Andrew Metkler added eight receptions for 103 yards.

The deciding factor turned out to penalties. Both teams played rather undisciplined, with Spring Hill racking up 14 penalties for almost 100 yards and Page getting called for nine flags and the same amount of yardage.

The Raiders’ miscues proved to be more detrimental, especially late in the game. On the Patriots’ last drive, Spring Hill was called for two penalties that resulted in Page getting the ball on the 5-yard line, where Johnson was able to punch it in to steal the game.

Friday’s game come down to whose defense is able to steal a possession or two from the opposing team’s offense.

After looking very poor defensively for much of the season, Spring Hill has looked vastly better in the last few weeks, culminating in its upset 28-8 victory over then-undefeated Stone Memorial last week.  The eight points allowed were the fewest the Raiders gave up in a game all season.

Page has been up and down on the defensive side of the ball. The Patriots were throttled 51-0 in the last week of the regular season. However, in the first round against Chattanooga Central last week, they gave up just a single touchdown in the 34-7 victory.

If neither defense shows up ready to play, it could be a good day for both quarterbacks. In their first meeting, Page junior Jacob Van Landingham (1,406 passing yards, 16 total TDs) threw for 148 yards and a touchdown, while Spring Hill senior Blake Lovell connected for 147 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Lovell will be making his third start in a row after missing about a month of action. In just five games this season, he’s thrown for 700 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.

While Lovell has been productive, the Raiders’ offense revolves around running back Dontae Smith.

Smith has rushed for 1,876 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. He averages 10.6 yards per carry.

The winner Friday will move on to the Class 4A quarterfinals, where it will find the winner of Marshall County and Giles County.

University School of Jackson (8-3) at Battle Ground Academy (8-3), 7 p.m. Friday

A trip to the Division II-A semifinals will be on the line Friday as the University School of Jackson Bruins travel to Battle Ground Academy.

It will be the second time this year the two will meet on the gridiron. BGA is hoping Friday’s game is different than the first, in which the Wildcats were beat in a shootout 52-45.

As evidenced by the score, the first matchup between the two was dominated by both offenses. BGA racked up 508 total yards, while USJ had 529.

The key to Friday’s contest might come down to whose defense can slow down the opposing team’s passing attack.

In Week 5’s barn burner, Wildcat junior quarterback Drew Martin completed 39-of-66 passes for 424 yards and five touchdowns. USJ’s Jacob Buie, on the other hand, connected on 21-of-36 passes for 463 yards and five touchdowns.

While neither defense could do much to slow down the opposing offenses, they did do a good job of coming up with turnovers. BGA had five giveaways (four interceptions, one fumble), while the Bruins had four (two interceptions, two fumbles).

The Wildcats can’t afford to fall into a hole like they did the first time the two teams met. In that game, USJ led 38-17 heading into the final quarter before BGA scored three times in a row to start the fourth.

The winner Friday will advance to the semifinals, where it will battle either Lausanne and Donelson Christian Academy.

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