Two new head coaches squared off Thursday in a battle of rivals who used to be in the same conference.
New Providence Panthers boss Justin Hardin guided his team to a 21-14 win at Myers Park and first-year Mustangs coach Scott Stein.
The Panthers’ second-half weapon, junior running back Brian Mattar, had a huge rushing night without a carry in the first half. Mattar rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns on eight second-half carries.
He had TD runs of 42 and 77 yards, with the latter proving to be the winning margin of victory.
Mattar played defense in the first half before shifting to offense in the second.
“I’m just feeling so excited,” he said. “I’m proud of my teammates, proud of my o-line blocking for me and happy for the team for getting this ‘W.’”
Hardin was asked why Mattar was only used offensively in the second half.
“He’s a little banged up and we really needed him on defense tonight,” he said. “We needed a spark plug in the second half and Brian was able to do that for us.”
Mattar’s second-half heroics somewhat overshadowed an outstanding rushing performance by Myers Park’s Jaquavion Alexander, who had 202 yards on 23 carries.
The Mustangs (1-3) were also forced to go with backup quarterback Alex O’Brien when starting quarterback Clay Norris fell ill earlier in the day.
“(Norris) got sick about 1 o’clock today but we prepare both quarterbacks every week,” said Stein. “We have to play better football and we have to coach them better.
“We continue to make mistakes in big places and that’s my responsibility as their coach.”
The Mustangs also had three costly turnovers that thwarted their offensive momentum.
Myers Park had a great opportunity to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, driving deep into Providence territory before O’Brien was picked off by Providence’s Tyler Pistorio.
Myers Park struck first late in the first quarter, as O’Brien connected with Tedarin NcNeil for a 22-yard touchdown pass.
The Panthers’ first-half score came on a 10-yard touchdown reception by Austin Proehl from Providence quarterback Caleb York.
The Panthers (2-2) will play next at Olympic on Sept. 27.
Myers Park will return to action on Sept. 20 when it travels to North Mecklenburg.
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