Straughn completes perfect region run with win over Providence Christian, 35-14

Published 2:18 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

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Straughn took a four-touchdown lead in the first half and rolled to a 35-14 home region win over Providence Christian in the regular season finale for both teams Thursday night.

Cameron Adams protects the ball during a rush attempt in between two Providence defenders. Adams finished the game with a solid running effort on offense and also recovered a fumble on defense. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Head Coach Ashley Kilcrease credited his senior class and said the team wanted to end region play undefeated.

“I can’t say enough about our leadership and our phenomenal group of seniors that have led us all year. I’m so proud of this team for all their hard work. Everything was settled last week, but we wanted to finish the right way and do it outright. We did a really good job setting the tone early against Providence and getting ahead with an important win tonight getting everybody out of here healthy. We are not done yet,” Kilcrease said.

The Tigers went unbeaten in region play for the first time since 2000 and last won nine regular-season games in 2010.

Brenden Bartholomew follows through on a PAT attempt with Cade Pittman as the holder. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Both teams went three-and-out on their opening possessions. Straughn (9-1, 8-0 3A Region 2) began its second possession at its own 40-yard line when Layne Grantham had an 8-yard run. Grant Barnes followed with a 5-yard run across midfield for a first down. Providence (5-5, 5-3) forced a third-and-7, but Grantham hit Clark Jordan on a 15-yard completion and kept the drive alive. Barnes earned two more first down runs and then capped the 10-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown run. Brenden Bartholomew added the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 3:35 left in the first.

Straughn’s Eli Guilford, right, puts pressure on the Providence quarterback. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Following a touchback and back-to-back penalties, the Eagles were pinned deep but gained a first down on a roughing the passer penalty. The defense tightened and ultimately forced a punt. The Tigers only needed two plays and 16 seconds to extend the lead. Barnes cut around the left side and gashed 60 yards to the end zone, as Bartholomew was true for a 14-0 lead.

After Kyser Sims opened the next visiting drive with a 16-yard run, the series stalled at the end of the opening quarter and resulted in a punt. Grantham got the next home drive going with a 20-yard scamper, while Barnes took the ball across midfield on a 14-yard carry. Three plays later, Barnes found the end zone again from 15 yards out. Bartholomew’s point after extended the margin to 21-0 with 10:03 left in the half.

Drew Ferguson makes a big tackle on an Eagle defender. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Providence received a first-down run from Craig Pittman on its next possession, but strong defensive plays from TD Wood and M.J. Dauphin thwarted any momentum. Starting at the 37-yard line, Cameron Adams picked up an 8-yard gain. Grantham then found Clark Gay open for 13 yards and a first down into opposing territory. Adams moved the chains again with a 12-yard run and ended the drive with a 30-yard touchdown run. Bartholomew made it four-for-four on PAT’s and took the lead to 28-0 at the 5:41 mark. Neither side posed another threat for the rest of the half.

The Eagles took the second half kickoff and set up shop at their own 26-yard line. Pittman had an 8-yard run before he threw a 12-yard pass to Chapel Stickler for a first down. Rylan Banner and Sims got the call on the ground as the visitors gained some momentum along two more first downs. Stickler finished off the 13-play, 74-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. Layton Hagler’s PAT with exactly 6 minutes left in the third cut the deficit to 28-7. Much like the first half, the Tigers went three-and-out and quickly gave the ball back.

TD Wood looks to bring down a Providence ball carrier. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Providence did not fare as well on its next drive when Adams recovered a fumble. Straughn took full advantage of the miscue on just one play as Chris White scored an 18-yard touchdown run. Bartholomew split the uprights once again and pushed the lead back to four scores at 35-7 with 2:20 left in the third.

The Eagles regained momentum with another strong drive and moved the chains twice from a pass and run by Pittman before the quarter ended. Sims moved the ball into the red zone, but Cade Pittman rose up on defense with an interception at the 10-yard line. The Tigers were not as successful with this turnover and again went three-and-out. A good punt return set up the visitors at the 23-yard line. Sims started the drive with a 15-yard run before a loss of two yards. Banner found an opening and crossed the goal line from 10 yards out as Providence made the score 35-14 with 6:58 remaining in the game. Straughn entered several players on its final two drives before the game came to an end.

Mack McIntyre eyes the open field with help from two offensive linemen. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Straughn will open the 3A state playoffs at home against the fourth seed in region 3, Southside Selma (7-3) on Friday, Nov. 10.

“Southside lost three games to the teams ahead of them in their region. One was to (region 3 champion) St. James by one point, and they are explosive with two brothers who are receivers and great football players. We will definitely have to be ready to play and are glad to be at Straughn,” Kilcrease said.