By JON REITER
In what will probably be considered the upset of the season in area high school football, host Providence dominated visiting Jeffersonville, turning back the Red Devils 35-13 on homecoming night Friday at Murphy Stadium.
“We thought if we played well, we’d have a shot to play with them,” Providence (3-3) coach Larry Denison said. “I was a little worried that after [Jeff’s 28-14 loss to Floyd Central last week], they’d come out this week and be focused and take it out on us. But I have to give credit to our kids. They worked hard for the last few weeks and earned this one.”
There was a different face under center for the Providence Pioneers on Friday night as Owen Mattingly — a senior who is most likely the Pioneers’ most versatile player — took over for Nathan Banet.
In his first-ever start at quarterback, all Mattingly did was rush for 192 yards and three scores, including a 41-yard scamper that deflated the Red Devil sideline and gave the Pioneers a 35-7 lead with five minutes remaining in the contest.
“We were having some problems with turnovers and needed to get back to playing Providence football,” said Denison, who perhaps captured what was arguably the biggest win for the program in the post-Gene Sartini era. “We were able to win and move the football, and did it without even completing a pass.”
Meanwhile, the Jeffersonville Red Devil offense, which was humming like a Porsche in racking up four consecutive wins to start the season, is now sputtering like a rusty old Yugo.
After turning the ball over eight times in a loss to Floyd Central last week, the Red Devils (4-2) continued their woes, committing seven turnovers in Friday’s contest. Jeffersonville quarterbacks Jamal Britt and Camaron Northern each threw two interceptions, and running back Austin Hines committed three fumbles.
The Providence defense successfully bottled up Hines, who gained only 29 yards on 12 carries and committed the three fumbles.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” Jeffersonville coach Lonnie Oldham said when asked about the turnovers. “If I did, we would have fixed it after last week. I know one thing, we play a good team next week (New Albany) and the team next week [No. 1 4A Columbus East] ... we might as well not even show up if we play like this.
“But I have to give [Providence] credit. They outplayed us from the start.”
Providence scored its two first-half touchdowns off Jeffersonville turnovers. Early in the second quarter, Jeffersonville took over on the Providence 38 following a punt. Hines committed the first of his two first-half fumbles on first down, and the Pioneers recovered near the line of scrimmage.
Matt Bell capped the short drive with a 14-yard touchdown run with 7:12 remaining in the first half. Mason Koetter’s kick failed but Providence led 6-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Pioneers attempted an onside kick, but Jeffersonville linebacker Amil Haleem emerged from the scrum with the football and raced 55 yards for the score. Fahuwu Momoh’s extra point was good for the Red Devils, who took a 7-6 lead with 6:58 remaining.
With less than a minute remaining in the first half, the Providence defensive back Dorian Noel picked off a Jamal Britt pass near midfield and returned it to the Jeffersonville 15. On 3rd and 7, Mattingly ran up the middle for an extremely tough 11-yard gain to the Jeffersonville 2. Two plays later, Mattingly went over the top for the touchdown with 3.3 seconds remaining in the first half. Bell ran in the two-point conversion and Providence led at the end of the first half 14-7.
Matt Hayes added a 13-yard touchdown run on Providence’s first possession of the second half and the extra point gave Providence a 21-7 lead with 9:38 remaining in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, Britt connected with tight end Dionte Allen for a 50-yard touchdown pass that would have brought the margin to 21-13, but the touchdown was called back due to an illegal block penalty called against Jeffersonville.
In the fourth quarter, an apparent 60-yard run by Hines deep into Providence territory was called back due to a holding penalty against the Red Devils. Jeffersonville came into the second half with only two penalties for 12 yards but committed seven penalties for 78 yards in the second half.
“I know there was a pretty big disparity between our penalties and theirs, but they just outplayed us,” Oldham said.
Noel picked off three Jeffersonville passes — two of which set up Providence’s two closing scores, a two-yard run by Mattingly early in the fourth quarter and the clincher, a 41-yard run by Mattingly around the left end that sealed the deal with 5:02 remaining.
“I can’t say enough about what our kids have done the last two weeks,” Denison said.
The Pioneers basically had a bye week last week as their scheduled home game against Indianapolis Manual was forfeited when Manual couldn’t come up with enough eligible players to field a team.
“We worked very hard and corrected some mistakes and became a better football team,” Denison said.
Jeffersonville faces off against archrival 4-2 New Albany — a 35-7 winner over Madison — next Friday night at Buerk Field. The Pioneers hosts 1-5 Mitchell next Friday. The Bluejackets were beaten 31-8 by Brown County on Friday.
PROVIDENCE 35, JEFFERSONVILLE 13
Providence 0 14 7 14—35
Jeffersonville 0 7 0 6—13
P — Bell 14 run (kick failed); 7:12.
J — Haleem 54 kick return (Momoh kick); 6:58.
P — Mattingly 2 run (Bell run); :03.
P — Hayes 13 run (Koetter kick); 9:38.
P — Mattingly 2 run (Koetter kick); 10:11.
P — Mattingly 41 run (Koetter kick); 5:02.
J — Northern 24 run (kick failed); 3:17.
Jeffersonville: Britt 6-17-71-2; Northern 4-10-73-2.
Providence: Mattingly 0-1-000-0.
Jeffersonville: Hines 12-29, Britt 3-16, Northern 3-32.
Providence: Bell 21-125; Mattingly 19-192; Matt Hayes 4-26, Johnson 4-0, Noel 5-38.
Jeffersonville: Hines 3-42, Coleman 3-32, Allen 2-57, Smith 2-16.