The Providence Panthers put themselves into good position in the SoMeck 8 conference with a 38-27 home win over arch rival Ardrey Kell Friday night.
The win is Providence’s (7-1, 4-0) third straight over the Knights and puts the Panthers into a tie for first in the conference standings with Charlotte Catholic, which beat South Mecklenburg Friday.
It was also the Panthers’ first win against a team with a winning record this season.
“The thing I’m most proud of about our kids tonight is they played hard,” said Providence coach Justin Hardin. “The offense played hard, the defense played hard. Ardrey Kell’s a good football team.”
The Panthers had a combined 286 yards rushing, led by 122 yards from quarterback Caleb York. York was also 10-of-15 passing for 119 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Brian Mattar, who Hardin said was “battling through some injuries,” had three touchdowns and 60 yards on 17 carries. Jack King had 104 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
“We came out, we worked hard in practice, Monday through Thursday,” King said.
“We knew they (Ardrey Kell) were going to come in, they’re a smashmouth team, but we out-physicaled them, outplayed them and I couldn’t be prouder of my team,” said King, who also had a 16-yard touchdown reception and an interception.
King also had a 16-yard touchdown reception and an interception.
“He wasn’t going to get tackled by the first defender tonight,” Hardin said about King. “He’s making us better, he’s playing well on defense and he’s getting better every week on offense.”
Ardrey Kell and Providence High traded scores in the first quarter, the Panthers scoring first on a 2-yard King run and the Knights on a 1-yard keeper by Bryce McGinley.
But Providence outscored Ardrey Kell 21-7 in the second quarter to take a 28-14 halftime lead.
Mattar scored on touchdown runs of 10 yards and 3 yards, and York found King on a swing pass that he took 16 yards for a score.
Ardrey Kell’s second quarter score came on a short pass to Ryan Jones, who spun out of an ankle tackle and sprinted down the sideline for a 53-yard touchdown.
The Knights (6-2, 3-1) were hurt by turnovers throughout the game, especially a McGinley fumble near midfield when the game was scoreless in the first quarter and the interception by King early in the third quarter when the Knights were down 14.
“Coach Hardin and Providence, they’ve got a good ball club,” said Ardrey Kell coach Adam Hastings. “We knew it was going to be a long battle. We also knew we couldn’t hurt ourselves. ...
“It’s about blocking and tackling and when you don’t do those things, you’re going to really hurt your chances of winning.”
Ardrey Kell outscored Providence 13-10 in the second half, but couldn’t get closer than 10 points.
McGinley (17-of-27, 211 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions) found Brian McCleod for a 19-yard touchdown pass and Bonte Freeman had a 4-yard touchdown run for Ardrey Kell in the second half.
Providence got a 40-yard field goal from John Biasucci in the third quarter and Mattar scored his third touchdown of the game from 7 yards out in the fourth.