Providence Pioneers

PEKIN — Senior running back Colin Flake rushed for 311 yards and five touchdowns on 16 carries as Providence rolled over Eastern 42-16 in the semifinals of Class 2A Sectional 39 on Friday night.

“Colin’s a special kid, a special running back,” said Providence coach Larry Denison.

Eastern was outmatched almost from the first possession as the Pioneers looked to avoid a second straight slow start.

“We came out a little flat against Clarksville,” said Denison. “We challenged our team this week to focus.”

Eastern took the first possession of the game and twice went for it on fourth down – the second time it didn’t work and the Pioneers took over near midfield.

Flake had runs of 11 and 17 yards during an 8-play drive that he capped with an 8-yard touchdown run. Junior Nathan Striby added the point after kick and the Pioneers led 7-0 at the 5:12 mark of the first quarter.

Eastern bobbled the ensuing kickoff and it was recovered by Providence sophomore Tyler Brogdon at the Musketeers 39. On the next play, Flake rambled 39 yards to score and it was 14-0 with five minutes left in the quarter — that was the score at quarter’s end.

It was more of the same for the Pioneers at the start of the second. Providence had the ball near midfield when a 19-yard run by Flake — combined with a personal foul by the Musketeers — put the ball on the Eastern 11. On the next play, Flake scored on an 11-yard run and it was 21-0 with 9:44 left in the half.

Eastern would try to answer and made it to the red zone before a fumbled snap and a personal foul on the Musketeers squelched the drive.

It was late in the half when the Pioneers put it away.

Taking possession at the Providence 15, it was a one play drive as Flake went 85 yards to score at the 2:46 mark.

An interception by Providence junior Jaxson Murphy helped set up another late touchdown. This time it was senior Chase Aldridge who went 67 yards to score with just under two minutes left and the Pioneers led 35-0 at the break.

Providence took the first possession of the second half and Flake picked up where he left off. On the second play from scrimmage, Flake rambled 54 yards to score. Striby added his sixth extra point and it was 42-0 with 10:33 left in the third quarter.

Eastern was able to avoid a shut out on the ensuing possession, then added a score in the fourth quarter - but the outcome was never in question as it was a running clock throughout the second half.

Providence (5-6) advanced to its third straight sectional final and will host Triton Central next Friday.

“It’s special,” Denison said of the trip to the sectional final. “A lot of people didn’t give this team a chance.”

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