MINT HILL, NC – The Independence football team under head coach DJ McFadden won it’s 6th game of the season with a relentless ground attack accumulating 284 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on Friday night. The team had 388 yards of total offense adding another 104 through the passing game.
On a beautiful night for a football game under the lights at Independence on Homecoming Night the loyal Patriot faithful enjoyed an exciting evening at the “Big I.”
In the first quarter it looked like the Patriots game out a little flat while the Panthers from Providence where prepared and ready to rumble. The Panthers won the toss and elected to receive the kickoff. They took possession on their own 31 yard line. They drove the ball down to the Patriots 11 yard line, but the drive stalled when safety Quentin Reddish tipped a pass for an incompletion forcing a field goal attempt. The Panthers quickly had a penalty call pushing them back to the 21 yard line, the snap, placement and kick was good giving the Panthers a early 3-0 lead.
The Patriots on its first possession from their own 20 yard line drove the ball down to the Panthers 22 yard line. However, the drive stalled when the Patriots elected to go for the first down on a 4th and 6 situation, the pass attempt was incomplete and the Pats turned the ball over on downs with 3:43 remaining in the quarter.
The Panthers took possession and moved the chains to the Independence 31 yard line. They set-up for a long 41 yard attempt, however, another penalty move the ball back 5 yards forcing a punt with 1:06 on the clock. This was a turning point in the football game for the Patriots. They started the drive on their own 40 yard line. Shaun Solomon scampered for 14 yards, he then added another 15 yards on three consecutive carries as the first period ends with the Panthers ahead 3-0.
The drive continued in the 2nd quarter, Solomon picks up 6 more yards, Justin Little on a keeper galloped for 11 yards to the 14 yard line, Solomon to the 8 yard line, on 2nd down the Panthers defense stiffens holding Solomon to a 1 yard gain. However, on 3rd an 7, Indy QB Little bursts into the end zone on a keeper for the Patriots first touchdown, the PAT was good from Daniel Locklear giving the home team a 7-3 advantage with 9:21 remaining in the first half. This was a nice 10 play 60 yard ball control drive by the Patriots.
The Patriots defense began to pound the Panthers offensive line and appeared to take control of the line of scrimmage in the trenches. Also, they began to put more pressure on the Providence QB Cade Kendall. Indy’s Joe Reddish lowered the boom sacking Kendall for a loss forcing a punt with 5:47 on the scoreboard clock.
The Patriots next drive started on their own 34 yard line, they would put together a 4 play 66 yard drive. Emmanuel Teah rushed the ball consecutive times for 10 yards and a Patriots first down. On 2nd down, Little dropped back under good pass protection from the offensive line and found McIntyre open who promptly caught the perfectly thrown pass in stride, turned on the afterburners and dashed into the end zone for a 14-3 Independence lead over the Panthers.
On the Panthers next possession after the kickoff and first down the ball now on their own 41 yard line, a pass attempt was intercepted by Indy’s Bryce Lofton giving the Patriots the ball back in good field position. However, the Patriots could not take advantage of the turnover. So they were forced to punt, but the snap was muffed and recovered by the Patriots on their own 8 yard line giving Providence a first down and goal opportunity. The Indy defense held and forced an 18 yard field goal attempt that was good making the score at halftime 14-6.
After the Homecoming festivities the Patriots received the kickoff, Little’s only mistake of the game came when he tossed an interception trying to force a pass into a covered receiver on the Providence 40 yard line. But the Patriots defense came up big once again to force a 29 yard field goal attempt, it was blocked by Josh Iseah bursting through the line with an excellent play.
The Pats take over, Solomon for 10 yards, Austin Cowick a 6 yard reception, Solomon to the 37, then on a 3rd down and 3, Indy QB Justin Little takes the snap, finds a seam, burst through the opening, turns on the jets and rockets into the end zone for a 63 yard touchdown, the PAT was good, the Patriots now had a 21-6 lead with 6:11 in the third quarter.
The resilient Panthers bounced back on their very next drive, QB Kendall found Reid Herring a senior WR open two strides past the Indy defender for a 57 yard touchdown strike making the game 21-13 with almost 4:00 minutes in the quarter.
The final score came in the fourth quarter when Indy put the game away with 5:29 remaining in the football game. Little’s third touchdown came on another QB keeper in a 3rd down and goal situation from the 3 yard line, he followed a big block thrown by Devin Johns into the end zone, the PAT was good putting this game now in Indy’s favor in full control with a 28-13 advantage.
Independence will travel to East Mecklenburg next Friday night when they take on the Eagles in a another important conference matchup at 7:00 pm.