South Mecklenburg High got the best out of John Brannon’s versatility.
The senior caught a pass for a touchdown and intercepted one to prevent a Providence score in the Sabres’ 14-7 victory at Providence. With the win, South Mecklenburg improved to 8-2, 4-2 in SoMeck 4A.
“It puts us back on top,” said Brannon, who also had three tackles for loss. “It gets us back on track after losing those two games. I feel like we came back focused and ready.”
South Mecklenburg was especially focused on defense, where the Sabres picked off four passes, including three on their side of the field. Providence (5-5, 4-3) moved the ball in the second half but struggled to turn those efforts into points when South Mecklenburg rose to the challenge.
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“We just fell into a zone,” Brannon said. “Our defense is tough. We got after it.”
South Mecklenburg quarterback A.J. Elam (10-of-16, 149 yards) was dazzling early, connecting on 7-of-9 passes for 121 yards and a pair of 20-yard touchdown strikes in the first half. His first, to DeAngelo Blair-Young on the opening drive, was a check-down in which Blair-Young outraced the Panthers’ defense to the goal line. The second, to Brannon, included a couple of broken tackles on third-and-15 late in the second quarter.
“I just ran a slant, caught it and got it into the box,” Brannon said. “You’ve got to put points on the board for the team. I saw the ball in the air, and any time you see the ball in the air, you just go take it.”
South Mecklenburg gained 166 yards in the first half, while limiting Providence to 52 by crowding the line of scrimmage and daring the Panthers to pass. Providence’s commitment to the run flipped the equation in the second half with Quinn Mahaney gaining 41 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, but turnovers proved costly.
“We didn’t capitalize on opportunities and that’s part of the game,” Panthers coach Brad Bowles said. “We’ve got to make those plays. We’ll get better. We’ll improve.”
Quote: “We play hard and our defense has been our backbone this year and it bounces back and forth.”– Providence coach Brad Bowles.
Records: South Mecklenburg 8-2, 4-2 SoMeck 4A; Providence 5-4, 4-2.
Worth Mentioning: South Mecklenburg receiver Moryah Johnson caught six passes for 103 yards.
What’s next: South Mecklenburg hosts Ardrey Kell on Friday in the regular-season finale. Providence plays at Charlotte Catholic.