Tahir Page led the Tigers' runaway win over Alliance.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- A long scoring play against a tired team that is not expecting it while clinging to a two-point lead, could be very effective in touching off a comeback uprising.
Such was the case Saturday afternoon on Stambaugh Stadium, where Rayen and Alliance not only were battling each other for their first win of the season after opening losses, but also the high temperatures being reflected off the artificial turf on an 82-degree day.
Alliance built an 18-16 halftime lead on the strength of Kendell Davis' three TDs, but Rayen's Tahir Page broke loose for an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second half, opening the gates to the Tigers' runaway 38-18 win.
Had hand in 24 points
Page (5-11, 180), a junior quarterback, had a hand in 24 of Rayen's points -- three TDs rushing and three conversion passes -- before suffering heat exhaustion about midway in the final quarter and taken away by ambulance, and replaced by Richard Owens, who shifted from wide-out.
Page rushed for 188 yards in 13 carries, and passed for 137 yards on 9-for-12.
"Page's running in the second half broke open the game," said Rayen coach Pete Lymber.
Alliance coach Chris Zurbrugg felt the same way.
"When a team is not used to winning, an 80-yard run can affect [you] adversely," said Zurbrugg.
Defense to rescue
But Rayen's defense also came to the rescue. After Page tallied to give Rayen a 22-18 lead, the Tigers' defense turned back an Alliance scoring threat at the Rayen 13 late in the third quarter.
Then the Tigers retaliated with an 87-yard, nine-play march capped by Page's 9-yard TD dash at 10:46 of the final quarter and Page's conversion toss to Keith Ratliff, for a 30-18 lead.
A short time later, Evan Walker of Rayen intercepted a pass at his 19 to set the stage for the Tigers' 12-play, 70-yard scoring advance finished by Owens' 13-yard TD scamper and Chris Holland's conversion run.
In the first half, Page scored on a 3-yard run while Phil Morgan tallied on a 14-yard scamper.
Davis carries load
Davis (6-0, 165), a sophomore tailback, got his three scores on runs of 2 and 65 yards and an 89-yard kickoff, and he finished with 170 yards rushing in 20 carries.
Davis didn't play a real lot in the second half because of a shoulder injury and heat exhaustion.
Zurbrugg implied that the heat may have adversely affected Alliance.
"If it did, we weren't in very good shape. Rayen didn't seem to have any problem. Part of it was getting tired obviously," said Zurbrugg.