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Robert Smith scored the eventual game-clincher and then rewarded gambling head coach Mitchell Stephens with the play of the game Friday night as Page beat Valley Christian (Chandler) 22-15 in Page.

Smith, one of two quarterbacks rotated by the Sand Devils' second-year coach, gave Page a two-touchdown lead when he burst in from 45 yards in the third quarter. The Page defense, vulnerable to the long ball, surrendered a 28-yard scoring strike from Vinnie LaGatta to Andrew Hanzal wtih about 5:40 to play.

LaGatta, who threw for 177 yards, tossed a two-point conversion for a 22-15 deficit.

By then Valley Christian (2-2) seemed to have figured out the Sand Devils' run-heavy approach and had Page in a 4th-and-14 from the Sand Devil 38. Smith, also the team's punter, started dropping back out of the shotgun position, stopped and found Dainian Sloan alone in the right flat. Sloan went 26 yards to extend the drive and effectively seal the game.

Without a working scoreboard, officials reported the remaining time at 2:45. Page ran off four more plays and punted to the Trojan 11 with less than a minute left. Stephens dialed up the pressure on LaGatta and obtained a sack, a couple more tipped balls at the line and a sack at the 32-yard line on fourth down with 22 ticks left.

The win allowed Page (4-1) to remain unbeaten at home and answer a 50-28 loss at Snowflake last week.

The Sand Devils will enter their bye week with two 112-yard rushers in Smith and Kele Meredith, who has 732 rushing yards at the halfway point of the regular season.

Page led 16-0 after one quarter on a 13-yard pass from Gabe Gomez to Justin Salabiye, and a two-yard Smith run. Valley Christian scored about two minutes before halftime on a six-yard pass from LaGatta to Shane Haagsma.

The Sand Devils, who fumbled six times and struggled in the punting game at Snowflake, had no turnovers and overcame the few mistakes they made. They held the Trojans to 87 rushing yards, though LaGatta and Peyton Hanzal combined for 234 yards passing on 13-of-18.

Valley Christian, of Class 3A Metro West, had owned the Sand Devils in two previous meetings, routing Page 54-7 in 2008 and 43-3 in 2007. Page has the best mark of 3A North teams, with all games out of the division.

Page next travels to Tuba City to open division play Sept. 28.


The Northland Prep Spartans participated in a swimming tri-meet in Wickenburg against Wickenburg and Basis Flagstaff.

For the combined contests, girls and boys, the Spartans came away with two victories.

The Northland Prep girls were led by senior Kirsten Hearne, junior Madelynn Kaiser and sophomore Jillian Raab. The boys were led by seniors Kyle Openshaw and Danny O'Brien and freshman Sam Prusacki.

"All of the teams were shorthanded at this meet because of illness or other factors, so there were multiple events that were new for many kids," said Spartans head coach Jeff Leid. "It was great to see how strong the Basis Flagstaff girls squad is in just their second year. Coach Christian Martin has done a fantastic job getting them ready to compete at the highest level and his gals certainly ended on top of most of the events."

The Spartans continue their string of dual meets Tuesday at Phoenix Country Day School at 4 p.m.

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The Sun Sports Staff contributed to this roundup.


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