BY JON REITER
A 1-yard touchdown run by Christian Brown at the end of regulation gave Clarksville a 24-20 victory over Providence Friday night and capped a wild fourth quarter in the city championship game.
Brown’s touchdown came after Providence quarterback Nathan Banet hit Dorian Noel for an 80-yard touchdown strike with just over two minutes left in the contest. Up until that point, the Pioneers’ second-half offense was non-existent.
Providence, whose top running backs Matt Bell and Owen Mattingly were sidelined with leg injuries, went three-and-out on three consecutive second-half possessions and saw a fourth end in an interception when Marquise Parrish picked off a Nathan Banet pass at the Providence 30 early in the fourth quarter.
“It was exciting down to the end,” Clarksville (5-4) coach Steve Cooley said. “We had a blown coverage there (on the Noel scoring catch) that never should have happened, but our kids hung in there. It was another great Clarksville-Providence game.”
Parrish’s interception led to a 7-yard touchdown pass from Aidan McEwen to Brandon Hardin and gave Clarksville their first lead of the night, 18-14 with 8:52 left in the contest.
On their next possession, the Generals drove deep into Providence territory again. A McEwen pass on fourth down attempted for Hardin was picked off by Josh Meurner at the Clarksville 20 with less than three minutes remaining.
On the very next play, Banet hit Noel on a post pattern at midfield, and Noel outsprinted Andrew Wright to find the end zone.
“We worked on that this week, it looked good in practice and we pulled it out at the right time,” Dennison said. “We just are a little bit banged up right now. We had a lot of guys who should have been in there out, and hopefully we can get them back next week.”
McEwen, who appeared to be hobbled for most of the night with a right leg injury, hung in the pocket and completed 18 of 28 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns, although he also was picked off three times. On his final drive leading the Generals down the field, he completed passes of 11 and 13 yards to Parrish and Nathaniel Jones, and runs of 15 and 17 yards by Brown took the Generals inside the 10. As the clock ran down to the end, Jones’ 1-yard run up the gut clinched it and gave the Generals the victory.
The Generals did themselves in early with penalities. On Clarksville’s first drive, two plays - a 35-yard run by Brown and 27-yard pass play from McEwen to Parrish -were called back for penalities. On third down, McEwen’s pass intended for Nate Knight was picked off by Providence lineman Cory Cecil, who returned the football to the Clarksville 35.
Four plays later, Banet hit Noel in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 5:14 remaining. Andrew Wimp added the extra point, and Providence led 7-0.
Clarksville was assessed nine penalties for 84 yards in the first half.
A late first-quarter drive by Clarksville extended itself early into the second quarter and resulted in a one-yard touchdown from Brown. But Wyatt Kissell’s kick went wide right, and the Pioneers clung to a 7-6 lead with 11:20 left in the half.
Sophomore running back Matt Bell, part of a banged-up offensive crew for the Pioneers who saw limited action a week ago with a deep thigh bruise, scampered for a 54-yard touchdown run along the Clarksville sideline to answer the Clarksville touchdown with 8:54 left in the half. Wimp added the extra point to make it 14-6.
Neither squad managed to score in the remainder of the half, but Clarksville was driving deep into Providence territory towards intermission. The Generals attempted a flea flicker after McEwen handed off to Parrish, but Parrish’s pass was picked off by Mattingly in the Providence end zone and time ran out to close the first half.
Clarksville struck first in the second half on a four-yard pass play from McEwen to Nick Jones with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter to come to within 14-12. Aside from the long pass play to Noel, the Pioneer offense could only muster 54 yards of total offense in the second half and two first downs.
“You have to give them a lot of credit,” Dennison said. “They took it to us and really played hard as well.”
The loss came on a night when the Pioneers honored former Coach Gene Sartini and unveiled a sign that named the football field in his honor. Sartini, a member of the Indiana High School Football Hall of Fame, retired in 2010 after coaching at the school for 40 years.
Sectional play begins next week as both teams hit the road. Providence travels to Paoli, while Clarksville faces Pekin Eastern Friday night.
CLARKSVILLE 24, PROVIDENCE 20
Clarksville 0 6 6 12—24
Providence 7 7 0 6—20
P — Noel 15 pass from Banet (Wimp kick); 5:14, 7-0.
C — Brown 1 run (kick failed); 11:20, 7-6.
P — Bell 54 run (Wimp kick); 8:47, 14-6.
C — Jones 4 pass from McEwen (pass failed); 1:54, 14-12 P.
C — Hardin 7 pass from McEwen (run failed); 8:46, 18-14 C.
P — Noel 80 pass from Banet (kick failed); 2:30, 20-18 P.
C — Brown 2 run (kick failed); 0:00.5, 24-20 C.
Clarksville 47-257 (Brown 33-166, Parrish 5-45, McEwen 7-48, Clark 2-7 ).
Providence 28-122 (Bell 3-63, Banet 6-23, Johnson 5-12, Wingate 6-19, Noel 4-11, Mattingly 1-8),
Clarksville (18-29-220-3): McEwen 18-28-220-3 Parrish 0-0-0-1. Providence (5-9-115-2): Banet: 5-9-115-2
Clarksville: Hardin 8-84, Wright 3-66, Parrish 3-34, Brown 2-13, Jones 2-19. Providence: Noel 3-100, Clark 2-16.