By DAVID BORAKS
CORNELIUS – Hough High built a 27-0 first half lead with four touchdowns, then held off a second-half comeback by Providence to win 27-22 in a non-conference football game Thursday night at Hough Stadium.
The Huskies’ Dre’an Long ran 24 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Josh Stilley completed 13 of 26 passes for 272 yards, including a pair of touchdowns. One was a 43-yarder to Brett Walker and the other 46 yards to Sanders Poff.
The win was the Huskies’ second in a row at home, and raised their record to 2-1. Providence fell to 1-2.
The Huskies’ big night of passing was a turnaround from last week, when Long dominated the offense with a single-game school-record 174 yards rushing. Providence’s strong defensive line contained the Huskies on the ground in the first half.
“The goal was to run the football like we did against Myers Park last week,” Coach Bobby Collins said afterward. “They (Providence) were better up front, their defensive line, their linebackers came and tackled.”
But the Panthers’ first-half zone pass coverage left the door open for Stilley. With 9:37 left in the first quarter, Stilley hit Nick Burrow with a 43 yard pass deep into Panthers’ territory, to the 20 yard line. A few plays later, Long ran in from 4 yards out for the Huskies’ first touchdown. Tim Gawert’s kick made it 7-0 with 6:14 left in the quarter.
Hough’s next score came after a similar drive. With about 3 and half minutes left in the 1st quarter, Stilley hit Burrow with a 35-yard pass to the 2 yard line. Long ran it in for the score making it 13-0 with 3:22 left. (Gawert’s point-after attempt was blocked.)
With 9:11 left in the second quarter, Stilley threw his first TD, connecting with Brett Walker on a 43-yard pass. The extra point was good, making it 20-0.
Providence punted on its next possession, turning the ball back over the Huskies on their own 30 yard line. Stilley threw a 20-yard pass to Nick Burrow, who got into Providence territory. Then the junior quarterback hit Poff with pass across the middle. He broke a couple of tackles and then angled left into the endzone, for a 46-yard score. Gawert’s kick made it 27-0 Huskies.
But Providence wasn’t ready to give up. Coach Randy Long called for a defensive change in the second half, putting more pressure on Stilley. “Second half they blitzed us more, they man-coveraged us more,” Huskies Coach Collins said. “The time that he had to throw the ball … second half they didn’t give him that time.”
With 8:37 left in the third quarter, Panthers’ quarterback James Haigh heaved a long pass down the left side to Austin Proehl, who outran several Hough defenders for an 80-yard score. Hayden Taylor ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 27-6.
Providence’s defense and Hough penalties kept the Huskies from gaining much ground early in the second half. The Huskies appeared headed for another score with about 3 and a half minutes left in the third quarter. But Long fumbled on Providence 22 yard line, and Jack King scooped it up and ran it back to the Huskies’ 11 yard line.
Haigh then connected with John Weekley for an 11-yard touchdown pass, and Gonzalez ran in the conversion to make it 27-16, with 2:53 left in the quarter.
Providence scored once more, with 7:28 left in the fourth quarter, when Haigh rushed for a 1 yard touchdown. A two-point attempt failed, leaving it at 27-22.
Hough’s defense made that score stick with pressure on Haigh and a couple of key plays late in the game. With just over 2 minutes left, the Huskies’ line forced Haigh to scramble to his right. He tried a pass to Taylor, but he couldn’t hold on thanks to a well-timed hit by Hough linebacker Ryan Lemke.
Then Haigh threw another pass over the middle to Caleb Smith, who tipped the ball into the arms of Hough’s Tylan Murrell at Panthers’ 31 yard line to end the Panthers’ drive.
Another Providence drive in the last minute ended abruptly when Brandon Cassarino charged Haigh and stripped the ball as he tried to pass. Huskies’ linebacker Jake Efird pounced on it to end Providence’s chances.
The Huskies next travel to Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology in Charlotte on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m.
HOUGH 13 14 0 0 - 27 PROVIDENCE 0 0 16 6 - 22
TOTAL YARDS – Hough 377, Providence 291
HOUGH PASSING: Stilley, 26 passes, 13 completions – 272 yards, 2 TDs, 0 interceptions
HOUGH RECEIVING: Burrow, 5 catches, 124 yards; Sanders 3 catches 79 yards
HOUGH RUSHING: Long, 24 carries, 86 yards, 2 TDs; Burrell 3 carries, 18 yards
HOUGH Defense: 1 interception, 3 sacks
H – 7-0 – Dre’An Long 4 yd run (Tim Gawert kick)
H – 13-0 – Long 2 yd run (Gawert kick failed)
H – 20-0 – Brett Walker 43 yd pass from Josh Stilley (Gawert kick)
H – 27-0 – Sanders Poff 46 yd pass from Stilley (Gawert kick)
P – 27-8 – Austin Proehl 80 yd pass from James Haigh (2 point conversion Hayden Taylor run)
P – 27-16 – John Weekley 11 yd pass from Haigh (2 pt conversion Giovanni Gonzalez run)
P – 27-22 – Haigh 1 yd run (run failed)