Mallard Creek’s Mavericks are returning to the Class 4AA West regional finals after a 49-21 third-round football playoff home victory Friday night over Providence.
Quarterback James Smith passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more for the defending state champion and No. 4-seeded Mavericks (13-1), who will go on the road to unbeaten Lake Norman to try to earn their way back to the title game.
No. 9-seed Providence, which had advanced by upsetting No. 1 East Forsyth last Friday, ended its season at 10-4 after throwing a little scare into the home team with a two-touchdown third quarter rally. Sophomore Quarterback Drake Deluliis, subbing for injured starter Caleb York, ran 18 yards for a touchdown and passed to senior wide receiver John Biasucci for two more.
But the Mavericks mostly had things their own way, scoring twice in the first 3 minutes and 15 seconds and sprinting to a 35-0 halftime lead.
A fumble recovery and 30-yard return by Mallard Creek defensive lineman on the game’s third play from scrimmage set up the Mavericks’ first score, a 3-yard touchdown run by Chauncery Bowman. He rushed 22 times for 180 yards.
Smith, who rushed 13 times for 146 yards and completed 11 of 23 passes for 149 yards, scored on a 68-yard run and tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Bowman on the Mavericks’ next two possessions.
Mallard Creek made it 28-0 on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Vernon Grier on the first play of the second quarter, ending a 71-yard drive.
And the Mavericks beat the clock with a 70-yard drive before halftime. Smith threw to Grier again for 8 yards and a touchdown with 38.4 seconds left.
The second half started like a different game, as the Panthers defense stuffed Mallard Creek on the home team’s two possessions, and the offense scored on its first two.
Junior linebacker Tyler Pistono set up the first score with an interception of a pass by Smith at the Mavericks 25. Providence got on the scoreboard with a 9-yard pass from Deluliis to Biasucci with 8:31 left in the quarter