Chelsea swarms Talladega

Published 12:45 am Saturday, September 20, 2008

In a battle to climb out of the basement in Class 5A, Region 4, Chelsea finally found a way to hold on to the ball and the game, defeating Talladega, 34-25.

Chelsea started the game in commanding fashion, marching down the field in less than three minutes and capping off its opening drive with a 27-yard run by running back Garrett Salter. The point after was successful, and Chelsea was quickly up, 7-0.

From that point on, Chelsea’s offensive game plan was simple: get the ball to Salter. The senior ended up scoring all five of Chelsea’s touchdowns while racking up 192 yards on the ground and 34 yards through the air.

His second touchdown came with 3:27 left in the first quarter from the Talladega 7-yard-line. Quarterback Blake Yance tossed it to Salter in the backfield and watched his running back cruise untouched into the end zone. The extra point was good, and Chelsea was up 14-0.

Talladega’s ensuing drive resulted in a field goal, cutting the lead to 14-3.

Both teams traded defensive stands until a shanked punt gave Chelsea good field position at midfield right before the half.

The offense methodically moved the ball up the field and put the ball at the Tiger 5. Talladega’s defense was visibly confused, trying to change formations even as the ball was snapped. That gave Salter the opening he needed to score six. Yance booted the extra point to give Chelsea a 21-3 lead, and the Hornets appeared to be running away with the game.

In the second half, Talladega came out with a pass-happy game plan. The Tigers started on their own 35, and quarterback Will Bailey engineered a strong drive to get his team to a crucial fourth-and-goal situation at the Chelsea 2.

Bailey found wide out Cliff Tuck in the corner of the end zone, and the two-point conversion was good to cut Chelsea’s lead to 21-11.

Late in the third, the teams traded touchdowns, but Chelsea missed their extra point and Talladega made their two-point conversion to put the Tigers down by a score, 27-19, at the beginning of the fourth.

In the final quarter, Chelsea worked the clock and with less than five minutes left, Salter scored on a 2-yard run. Austin Rikard’s extra point was good to make it 34-19.

The Tigers still had to make it interesting. The Tigers scored one more touchdown but botched the two-point conversion, making it 34-25. Chelsea fumbled the ball during its next drive, but on the very next play, the Tiger quarterback threw an interception and it was Hornet ball until the end.

Chelsea Head Coach Wade Waldrop said his team’s lack of turnovers was the difference-maker.

“We held on to the football tonight. We had one (fumble), and that’s the major thing,” he said. “I told them if we were going to win tonight, we were going to have to win Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This was the best week of practice we’ve had all year. They work so hard, and you can tell that.”

Next week, the Hornets (1-3, 1-2) travel to meet Jemison.