By KEVIN HARRIS
During his 40-year tenure as the Providence football coach, Hall of Famer Gene Sartini believed in running the football down an opponent’s throat. Sartini’s successor at PHS, Larry Denison, inherited that philosophy from the coach he played for and coached under, and it showed on Friday night at Murphy Stadium.
Providence rushed for 444 yards and did not attempt a single pass in a 49-12 victory over Charlestown on Senior Night at PHS. The Pioneers (5-3) won their fourth straight game, while the Pirates (5-3) saw their five-game winning streak end.
“I think somewhere Coach Sartini is probably smiling right now,” Denison said. “That’s the thing about the offense we’re running. It only takes a small crease. You better bring guys up on the line to stop the sweep. But at the same time, you have a lot of gaps to protect.”
Providence had three players each break the century mark in rushing yards. Junior Matt Bell ran for 159 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Owen Mattingly rushed for 148 yards on 17 carries and two TDs, while senior Conner Johnson had 108 yards on the ground on four carries and one score.
All that rushing production came against a Pirate defense that entered the game ranked third in Class 3A in scoring defense, allowing 11.1 points per contest.
“We’ve got a good stable of skill guys,” Denison said. “Earlier in the year, we tried to spread people out and tried to take advantage of that and get the ball in their hands. But we had to sit down and talk about it and realize this is the best thing for us. It gives us some balance and you just can’t focus on one guy.”
Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins was impressed with the Pioneers’ balance as well.
“They played really well and they ran the ball great,” Hawkins said. “We knew they had great running backs. We knew if they hit a crease, they were gone. Mattingly is tough, Bell is tough and the Dorian [Noel] kid is tough. They’ve got great runners and they ran the ball great. They did a good job.”
Providence needed only three plays to get on the scoreboard. On second-and-11 at the 8:55 mark of the first quarter, Bell bolted 49 yards to the end zone to put the Pioneers up 7-0.
Shortly thereafter, Charlestown quarterback Antonyo Gaddie fumbled after a 6-yard gain, which was recovered by Providence junior Matt Hayes at the Pirates’ 26-yard line.
The Pioneers then put together a seven-play scoring drive, all on the ground. Following a 17-yard run by Johnson to get the ball to the Charlestown 1, Mattingly got the ball into the end zone on a keeper to give Providence a 14-0 lead with 4:24 remaining in the first. Mattingly extended the Pioneers’ advantage to 21-0 with 5:23 remaining in the second with a 27-yard touchdown scamper on a third-down option keeper.
After a Charlestown three-and-out, Johnson provided the Providence its biggest play of the first half. On second-and-8 on the Pioneer 16, Johnson ran off left tackle and sprinted to paydirt for an 84-yard touchdown run at the 3:20 mark to put Providence up 28-0. The Pioneers picked up where they left off at the start of the second half. On the first play of the third quarter, Bell ran 80 yards for a touchdown off right tackle to give Providence a 35-0 advantage 12 seconds into the latter half. Denison was shocked that his team was up 35 points at that point against the defending Mid-Southern Conference and Class 3A Sectional 23 champions.
“Yes, I was surprised we were up that much, but we took it as a challenge,” Denison said. “We have a lot of respect for Charlestown and their program and their defense. But our guys have been hearing how good Charlestown’s defense is. Our defense wanted to prove that we were just as good as their defense, and our offense wanted to prove we can run against a good defense.”
Charlestown finally got on the board on its first possession of the third. Pirate senior Matt Myers capped off a four-play, 63-yard drive with a 1-yard TD plunge into the end zone. Gaddie set up the score with a 38-yard run on a keeper on first-and-10 at the 10:25 mark. But the score stayed 35-6 after Charlestown place-kicker Rodrigo Martinez missed the extra-point kick wide left.
Providence needed 13 seconds to squash the Pirates’ brief momentum. Noel, a senior, returned the kickoff 90 yards for a TD to increase the Pioneers’ advantage to 42-6. Providence senior Ben Hauber increased the lead to 43 points with 6:49 remaining in regulation with a 13-yard TD run. Gaddie made the score 49-12 with a long run of his own. With 5:51 left, Gaddie made a 47-yard TD scamper on a keeper. The freshman ended up with 116 rushing yards on 20 carries.
“He’s a freshman. He’s going to make mistakes, but he’s going to make good plays,” Gaddie said. “He’s a great athlete and made some good runs tonight, but he’s going to make mistakes.”
Charlestown wound up 239 total yards, with 224 coming on the ground. It was the Pirates’ worst loss since a 47-8 setback to Brownstown Central on Aug. 27, 2010.
Both teams will end the regular season next Friday. Charlestown will host Eastern at Dutch Reis Field, while Providence will travel to archrival Clarksville. At the end of the first quarter, Providence honored public-address announcer Pete Corrao as the former Providence football player was retiring from his duties. Corrao received a trophy in the press box for his service. Corrao has been doing the PA at Pioneer football games for 25 years.
PROVIDENCE 49, CHARLESTOWN 12
Charlestown 0 0 6 6—12
Providence 14 14 14 7—49
P — Matt Bell 49 run (Mason Koetter kick), 8:55.
P — Owen Mattingly 1 run (Koetter kick), 4:24.
P — Mattingly 27 run (Koetter kick), 5:23.
P — Conner Johnson 84 run (Koetter kick), 3:20.
P — Bell 80 run (Koetter kick), 11:48.
C — Matt Myers 1 run (kick failed), 10:25.
P — Dorian Noel 90 kickoff return (Koetter kick), 10:12.
P — Ben Hauber 13 run (Koetter kick), 6:49.
C — Antonyo Gaddie 47 run (run failed), 5:51.
Charlestown (1-9-15-0): Gaddie 1-9-15-0.
Charlestown (41-224): Gaddie 20-116, Myers 15-46, Jarren Anderson
3-51, Eli Daniel 1-8, Jimmy Garcia 1-3.
Providence (44-444): Bell 11-159, Mattingly 17-148, C. Johnson 4-108,
Noel 5-14, Hauber 1-13, Matthew Hayes 2-9, Luke Fougerousse 1-0, Micah
Oberhausen 1-0, Cameron Harvey 1-(-1), Barrett Johnson 1-(-6).
Charlestown: Daniel 1-15.