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Providence Grove’s Andrew Thomas runs away from Bishop McGuinness defenders for a long touchdown run in the second quarter Friday night.    Eric Abernathy/Randolph Hub

Providence Grove wins in comeback

CLIMAX — It has been quite an emotional week at Providence Grove High School as the varsity football team prepares for a Friday night battle with former head coach Calvin Brown and Asheboro High School.


The Patriots are starting to get accustomed to these emotional battles.


Last week, quarterback James Ellis capped a 56-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with just 40 seconds to play to lift PG to a thrilling 26-20 win over Bishop McGuinness to remain undefeated under new head coach David Hayes at 3-0.


The drive included 31 yards on the ground by Logan Fox and a 37-yard reception by Jackson Rhyne on fourth and long, which kept the winning drive alive and gave the Patriots the come-from-behind win in a contest they led for more than three quarters.


Now after battling that adversity and coming out the other end, the Patriots will be looking across the field at their former coach who led the PG program for seven years, guiding it to four straight winning seasons and five non-losing campaigns in a row.


“Our kids right now have a feeling they got something to prove to a lot of people,” Hayes said after the Patriots captured last week’s win. “That’s a really good thing. 


“I know there is a history there and we respect what that staff did here before we got here. Our kids are going to lock in and go to work this week and we're going to keep grinding and that’s the approach we’re going to take and hopefully we can pull one out next week.”


Brown and five members of his PG staff made the move to AHS this past year. The Blue Comets’ football program had registered just seven wins in the past eight years and something needed to change.


Brown and his staff were that “something.”


The Blue Comets have looked better on the field this year, defeating Albemarle 24-22 in the season opener and falling to Eastern Randolph 27-16 after losing to the Wildcats 69-7 a year ago.


Emotions won’t just be on the PG sideline Friday night.


“We’re going to try and treat it like any week, but it will be emotional,” Brown said.  “I spent 11 years there and my kids, the only thing they have known is Providence Grove sports and athletics. At the end of the day, we’re going to have to prepare our guys at Asheboro to play a very good team.


“It’s going to be cool to see two teams compete, a lot of guys on both teams we’ve had an impact on,” Brown continued. ”The emotion will be there for not only myself but for the other coaches as well. As a coaching staff, we’re going to be professional, but after the game, some of those emotions are going to be let loose when we speak to the kids.”


Against Bishop McGuinness, the Patriots certainly overcame adversity as they led 9-0 in the second quarter and 16-6 at halftime. A 30-yard field goal by sophomore Carson Jones pushed the PG lead to 19-6 with 6:18 left in the third.


After a Bishop McGuinness touchdown, adversity struck again when an inadvertent whistle negated a long first-down pass for the Patriots and then the Villains scored another touchdown to take a 20-19 lead.


But two possessions after giving up the lead, the Pats took over on their 44 with 4:41 to play. After converting a short third-down play, a bad snap cost the Patriots 13 yards on third down. Facing fourth-and-18 from their own 47, Ellis dropped back, sidestepped some trouble and heaved a pass downfield that junior Jackson Rhyne caught in the middle of the field for a first down at the 17, a gain of 36 yards.


“Coach Hayes said just give us a shot and I saw him open for a split second and threw up a prayer and he came down with it,” Ellis said. “I can’t thank him enough. He makes me look better than I am.”


Rhyne said his team needed a big play at the time.


“I saw the ball in the air and I know how to make a play so I made a play,” the junior receiver said. “I knew the ball was going to me.”


Three straight runs by Fox pushed the ball to the 1 with under 50 seconds left and Ellis went in untouched around the left end for the winning score.


Ellis picked off a tipped pass near midfield to close the game out.


“It really showed how much fight we have,” Ellis said. “When they got up, it didn't break us, but we got pretty down. We have to learn to keep our heads up and we can fight back against any team in North Carolina.”


Hayes said he continues to learn things about his football team.


“We found out something about ourselves and that’s we’re real gritty,” Hayes said. “I told them at halftime we were going to have adversity and we were going to have to fight and claw and scratch. Credit to our kids. They made it happen.”