CLARKSVILLE — Wenkers Wright had himself a night.
The Floyd Central junior ran for 352 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Highlanders to a 28-7 triumph over host Providence on Friday night at Murphy Stadium.
Wright ran for TDs of 25, 97 and 80 yards in the second half after the game was tied 7-all at halftime.
“We started off rough, but at halftime we got an encouraging talk from the coach and after that our blocking was right,” Wright said. “The receivers were blocking great. I was following them, and it was green field in front of me.”
It was the seventh straight win for the Floyd green and gold in a series that will likely end after next year’s game in the Knobs as Providence pares down its schedule to face like-sized schools.
Friday night the Class 2A Pioneers (1-1) played with the 5A Highlanders (1-1) for much of the game.
Following a moment of silence prior to kickoff for long-time Providence coach Gene Sartini, who passed away earlier this month, the hosts forced Floyd to punt on its first possession. Then, the Pioneers went 66 yards in six plays to take the quick, and early, lead. Two plays after he broke off a 43-yard run, Colin Flake reached the end zone from 12 yards out to put Providence up 7-0 with 7:38 to play in the period.
The Highlanders answered almost immediately with a quick five-play scoring drive that was highlighted by a 40-yard run by Wright. Three plays later he reached the end zone on a 5-yard run to tie the game.
It remained knotted up until early in the third quarter. After forcing the Pioneers to punt on their first possession of the second half, Floyd needed only three plays — all Wright runs — to reach paydirt. Wright’s 25-yard TD run put the Highlanders on top to stay.
Providence tried to answer, marching to the Floyd 31 before its drive stalled.
After a Pioneers’ punt the Highlanders took over at their own 11. Floyd quarterback Tristan Polk was dropped for an 8-yard loss on his team’s first play from scrimmage. On second down Wright took a handoff from Polk, burst up the middle, broke two tackles, then broke away for his 97-yard TD run.
“Our physicality in the second half helped us win that game,” Floyd Central coach James Bragg said. “We started making holes for [Wright]. He found the holes and then with his breakaway speed it makes it very difficult to catch him in open space. His vision was good and our line made it easy by making big holes and he just sees him. I don’t know how many yards he had, but it was amazing.”
Trailing 21-7 Providence started the fourth quarter with a long, clock-eating drive. The Pioneers reached the Floyd 10 before a penalty pushed them back. The drive eventually ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down.
On the Highlanders’ first play Wright broke free for an 80-yard touchdown run to put the game away.
“That’s the thing when you’re playing a big school like Floyd, we’ve got eight, nine guys going both ways, never coming off the field, even playing special teams. Then you get a little muggy night like this it starts to add up and takes its toll,” Providence coach Larry Denison said. “When you’ve got those athletes, when he’s got fresh legs and we don’t. He’s already a good athlete to begin with and then you give him fresh legs against our dead legs, it’s a recipe for disaster for us.”
The Pioneers played without senior quarterback/linebacker Bishop Edwards, who was ejected from Providence’s Week 1 win at Bethlehem (Ky.) after receiving two unsportsmanlike penalties.
“[Playing without] him probably hurt us more defensively rather than offensively,” Denison said. “Some of those long runs they had there at the end, maybe they don’t make them [if we have him]. It’s a what-if game, but it definitely hurt us not having him out there.”
Next Friday, Floyd Central hosts Vincennes Lincoln while Providence hosts Silver Creek.