The Providence Panthers overcame early turnovers and used a strong defense plus strong special teams play to power past the visiting East Meck Eagles 23-7 in the season opener Friday night.
East Meck struck first midway through the first quarter as Trey Hodge intercepted quarterback Jack Cherry and returned the pick to the Providence 1-yard line. East Meck quarterback Khalil Gilliam ran a sneak on the next play and the Eagles led 7-0.
From there it was all Providence. After another Cherry interception deep in East Meck territory, the Panthers defense sacked Gilliam in the end zone for a safety to get on the board. Following the free kick, Providence went 55 yards in seven plays with Cherry scoring on a five-yard run to give the hosts a 9-7 lead that held to the half.
Providence extended the lead to 16-7 less than two minutes into the third when Chris Jones blocked an East Meck punt and recovered it for a touchdown and a 16-7 lead. Then after the defense stopped East Meck again and forced a 12-yard punt, Julian Boddie capped the scoring when he scored on a 7-yard run late in the third.
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Quote: “We have a lot of things to clean up but overall I like what I saw and I love the effort,” Providence head coach Brad Bowles said. “These kids are hungry and they’ve really worked hard to make us a good football team.”
Records: Providence improves to 1-0 while East Meck is 1-1
▪ Cherry had three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) in the first quarter. Following the third giveaway, his offensive coordinator told Cherry over the headset that he was their guy, calm down and don’t expect to make the perfect play each time.
▪ Julian Boddie is a workhorse for Providence. He rushed for 109 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown and came out of the game midway through the fourth quarter.
▪ If East Meck is to be successful they will have to figure out a way to move the ball through the air some. Running back Khalil Woods ran for a respectable 85 yards but Gilliam completed only 4 of 17 passes for 24 yards
What's Next: East Meck will host Ashbrook while Providence will host Hough.