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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Dragons' defense stifles Pioneers

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Silver Creek's Dylan Meyers carries the ball up the field as teammates block the Pioneer defenders during Friday's game. 

CLARKSVILLE — Silver Creek is still perfect.

The Dragons’ stout defense put together yet another impressive performance en route to a 27-0 shutout win at Providence Friday evening, which moved Silver Creek and first-year head coach Dave Papenhaus to 3-0 on the new season.

The defensive unit, which entered Friday having allowed 19 points through two weeks — good for a share of sixth in Class 4A — allowed fewer than 100 yards of total offense in the win, which gave the program a 2-1 advantage in the young series with the Pioneers, who dropped to 1-2.

“We know the defense is the strength of our team,” Papenhaus said about a group allowing just 6.3 points per game through three weeks.

Silver Creek is now off to its best start since a 2017 campaign that featured four consecutive shutouts and six straight wins to open the season.

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Providence's Alec Fougerousse attempts to dip beneath the Silver Creek tackle by LaShun Mays Jr. during Friday's game. 

In addition to the defense, the Dragons also got a strong showing behind center from quarterback Dylan Meyers, who totaled 149 yards — 83 rushing and 66 passing — to account for 70 percent of the Dragons’ offense.

“Dylan is really athletic,” Papenhaus said. “I don’t want to insult him by saying he’s sneaky athletic. He can run the ball, and he does a great job of taking what the defense gives him. He had some great balls in the passing game tonight, and when it was time for him to put his foot in the ground and go run the ball, he answered the bell.”

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Providence's Bishop Edwards, left, continues his run after handing the ball off to running back Colin Flake late in the second quarter against Silver Creek. 

The Pioneers boasted their serviceable run game on the opening possession, which lasted 6:47 and featured a number of different ball carriers.

“That’s what we need to have,” Providence coach Larry Denison said. “We need to be balanced. … We need to grind it out and shorten the game as much as possible. When you have eight, nine, 10 guys going both ways, not coming off the field, you have to shorten the game as much as possible. ... But we have to convert, too.”

Despite the strong start, the drive resulted in a rugby-style punt to set up the Dragons’ first possession, which also culminated in a punt — one Providence had trouble controlling at its own 40-yard line.

A Silver Creek recovery and runs of 12 and 14 yards, respectively, from Meyers helped set up the quarterback’s 2-yard touchdown run to open scoring with 9:57 showing in the second quarter.

In wake of two more fruitless possessions, Providence had first-and-10 at its own 24-yard line. But that's when a former Pioneer stole the show.

Providence’s first pass attempt was tipped at the line and intercepted by Peyton DeLucio, a Providence transfer and starting linebacker for the Dragons, who promptly took it 20 yards for the touchdown.

“It feels great,” DeLucio said. “It feels great to be back, see the guys I played with since middle school. It was a crazy experience. I was shocked.”

Silver Creek led 13-0 at the break behind the defense, which allowed 55 yards to the Pioneers, and 81 yards of total offense from Meyers.

“They’re a very good team, you can’t deny that, but we made a lot of mistakes," Denison said. "In the first half, the fumbled punt, the tipped ball for the interception for the pick-six, missed tackles, missed blocks and bad snaps — we hurt ourselves a lot. We can’t do that against a good team like Silver Creek and expect to win.”

A penalty negated a would-be touchdown on the second-half kickoff for Silver Creek’s Easton Messer before the Providence defense forced a punt. The Dragons, though, pinned the Pioneers inside their own 5-yard line, and their defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession — leading to another score.

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The Dragons stop the Pioneers short of a first down during the second quarter of play on Friday. 

With first-and-10 from the Providence 28-yard line, Meyers broke several tackles and notched his second TD run of the night with 5:52 left in the third. Silver Creek added insurance in the form of Heath Knight’s 2-yard touchdown run with 2:22 remaining.

The Dragons will host Eastern, which has dropped six straight versus Silver Creek, next Friday. Providence next travels to Clarksville for a matchup with the Generals, who last week won their first game in nearly five years.

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