Saturday night, the first weekend of high school football in the Charlotte area concluded with the first-ever Keep Pounding High School Classic in Bank of America Stadium between the Providence Day Chargers and Northwestern Trojans. The two squads are star-studded and set to be two of the best in Carolinas this season and they delivered a classic game that proved just that.
The Chargers started the night with a promising drive getting inside of the Northwestern 30, but running back Ian Cline would be stripped by Northwestern’s Will Massey and recovered by Mason Grier. Northwestern would have a promising drive of their own later in the first quarter, stunted by a 4th down conversion that was called back for illegal touching after the receiver took himself out of bounds.
The two teams would exchange promising drives into the other team’s territory to close out the first quarter, including one deep into Providence Day territory by Northwestern in the final seconds. On the first play of the second quarter, Northwestern quarterback Finley Polk would throw it behind his intended receiver on 4th and 2 by Jaylen Himes, setting the Chargers up for their first scoring drive of the night.
The drive started with a big conversion on third down to Cline on a screen play and also involved a huge 35-yard reception by Jordan Shipp that set up the touchdown. On 1st & Goal from the 6, Cline would race into the endzone to go up 7-0.
Northwestern would race down the field and have a chance to take the lead before a huge sack from David Sanders on third down in the red zone would lead to a second interception of the night for Polk, this time by Cairo Skanes. Providence Day quarterback would find Shipp for a couple of big gains, including the 17-yard touchdown reception that would put the Chargers up two scores.
The Trojans would waste no time responding, though, as Polk found receiver Jaylen Burris wide-open for a 75-yard touchdown, cutting the Chargers lead in half. That would margin would last for less than a minute, though, as Davis would find Himes to extend the lead back to 14.
Northwestern would storm out of the locker room at halftime with a promising drive, but it would stall in the redzone and kicker Matthew Fish would miss the 37-yard field goal, giving the ball back to the Chargers. Just two plays later, Davis would find fellow Michigan commit Channing Goodwin over the middle and he would race to the endzone for an 81-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 28-7.
The Trojans would respond this time, with a couple of big gains by running back Turbo Richard, the Boston College commit. Zilon Arnold would check into the game and find the endzone from six yards out, cutting it back to a two-score game.
The Chargers would respond again, though, driving 80 yards to score again. Davis would find Shipp three times on the drive, including a 24-yard touchdown throw that extended it back to a 21-point cushion for the Chargers.
Northwestern drove the length of the field themselves on the next drive and would score on an insane 4th down play in the redzone. Polk would sail one a bit high for Burris that he was able to get a hand on. The ball would carom in the air and land right in the hands of Jayden Nichols for the touchdown.
The Northwestern defense just could not find a way to slow down the Chargers offense, though, as they would drive the field for their sixth score in seven drives. Davis would find Goodwin for his second touchdown of the night, giving the Chargers the 42-21.
Providence Day would appear to seal the game on the team’s next drive, but a quick three-and-out gave Northwestern the ball right back. Polk would find the Burris again from 12 yards out, giving the Trojans life. They would gain a little more with an onside kick recovery on the ensuing kickoff.
The Trojans would make the Chargers pay for multiple defensive penalties that would extend the next drive. Polk would find Kameron Vance with his third touchdown throw of the night, making it a one-score game. Providence Day safety Brody Barnhardt would recover the onside kick to close the 42-35 victory for the Chargers.
Shipp, the senior receiver who is bound for Chapel Hill to play for the Tar Heels, was named the play of the game, with 13 receptions for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Davis finished the game with 456 yards passing and five touchdowns, while Polk finished with 410 yards passing and four touchdowns. The three interceptions by Polk were the difference in the game.
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