Bucs beat Pelham, remain unbeaten in Alabama
Hoover squelched Pelham’s chance to finish third in Region 6, beating the Panthers 42-21 at Regions Park.
The Buccaneers built a 21-0 halftime lead and held Pelham at arm’s length the rest of the game. Pelham head coach Brett Burnett said his players acted intimidated lining up against the Region 6 champions.
“I don’t know why we came out kind of wide-eyed. We’ve got to come out with confidence,” Burnett said. “If we’re going to get this thing where we want to get it to, we’ve got to come out from the very beginning believing we can compete with these people, and we haven’t done that against the three best teams in our region.”
The Hoover machine whirled a path of destruction, hurting themselves as well as Pelham. The Bucs committed 15 penalties for 110 yards but stabbed several daggers into Pelham’s chances, including two drives in the middle of the game.
Senior quarterback Simon Propst led a 52-second, 73-yard touchdown drive that ended three seconds before halftime. Propst completed 5-of-5 passes for 78 yards playing without a timeout.
“We got in a rhythm and took what they gave us,” Hoover head coach Josh Niblett said. “We tried to keep the ball out on the perimeter, and then we got a couple chances where we were able to hit them down the middle.”
In the third quarter, Hoover punter Dylan Breeding caught Pelham unaware, completing a pass on a fourth-and-7 for 19 yards. The Bucs converted a third-and-11 on the same drive, which ended when J.D. Barnette scooped up a Propst fumble and ran three yards to put Hoover up 28-7.
Pelham’s mistakes didn’t end there. The Panthers failed to score after two first-and-goals, and Hoover’s Brian Jackson scored the game’s first touchdown after a wayward snap to Pelham punter Austin Demsky.
“You can’t make mistakes against good football teams,” Burnett said. “You can probably look at five or six plays as the difference in the game.”
Hoover tackled Pelham quarterback Tripp Martin behind the line of scrimmage 12 times, blitzing from several formations and also forcing Martin to throw two interceptions.
“There was about 50 sacks it seemed like. Just not a very good job up front,” Burnett said.
Pelham’s defense played the run better than recent games, but Hoover’s athletic receivers speared jump balls out of the sky or sprinted past coverage. Madrecs Humphrey led the Bucs with six catches for 119 yards. The Panthers rushed the ball well in the second half with the Bucs defending against quick scores.
“We were able to shut down their running game early, and when you’re able to do that and make them have to throw the football, we were able to get some sacks, and then we can do what we want to do and dictate the flow of the game,” Niblett said.
Hoover (8-1, 8-0) remained unbeaten in the state of Alabama, but Niblett spoke highly of Pelham. The Panthers cut the lead to 35-21 after a successful onside kick in the fourth quarter and tried another, but couldn’t get the ball back.
Pelham has lost by a combined 112-47 against Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and Hoover, the three teams finishing ahead of the Panthers in Region 6.
To finish third in the region, Pelham (6-3, 5-3) needed to upset Hoover and have Thompson beat Vestavia. Neither happened as the Rebels handled Thompson 49-0. The Panthers close the regular season at Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa on Thursday.