Hough hangs on to beat Providence 27-22
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – There’s a sure sign that Hough High’s third-year football team is maturing.
Winning alone doesn’t bring complete satisfaction. The Huskies want, and need to, learn how to keep an opponent down.
Hough edged Providence 27-22 on Friday in a game that went from first-half rout to last-minute nail-biter. The Huskies (2-1) won their second straight game by scoring touchdowns on each of their first four possessions.
It was 27-0, a light breeze was blowing and the white-clad student section was having fun. An hour later, an inspired Providence squad had scored three straight touchdowns, added a pair of two-point conversions and seemed poised to pull off a shocking upset.
But Hough’s defense stymied Providence on three possessions in the final four minutes, and forced two turnovers. Tylan Murrell intercepted a pass after it was tipped and returned it to the Providence 35 with one minute, 52 seconds left.
Hough punted, and Providence began its final drive at its 20. With 19 seconds left, Hough defensive end Brandon Cassarino dislodged the ball from Providence quarterback James Haigh, and linebacker Jake Efird recovered it to seal the victory.
“We have to learn to finish a football game,” Hough coach Bobby Collins said. “Catches we made, the runs, the blocks we made in the first half, we didn’t (in the second). And you can’t be successful turning the football over.”
Hough’s Josh Stilley passed for 235 first-half yards, including a 43-yarder to Nick Burrow on the first play from scrimmage. Running back Dre’ Long capped a 70-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run on Hough’s first possession.
Three minutes later, Long scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 65-yard run. Stilley connected with Brett Walker for a 43-yard touchdown on a deep post pattern for a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. Less than two minutes later, Stilley’s 46-yard touchdown to wideout Sanders Poff made it 27-0.
The blowout seemed imminent.
But Providence made adjustments, clogged passing lanes and blitzed Stilley. Hough struggled to run the ball, and Providence’s Haigh ran for a score and passed for two others in the second half.
“We were excited. We came out and we got after it,” Burrow said. “The second half, we let up. But the difference in our team from last year to this year is we have leaders more than we had. And we can correct those things. The defense stepped up. The offense, we were driving, but we got penalties that we call `drive-killers.’ But we got the win. Now we’ve got to put this behind us and focus on next week.”