Homewood blocks Pelham’s comeback

After falling short in their previous four tries, the Homewood Patriots picked up their first win of the season Friday, as Pelham’s Cameron Haynes’ 42-yard potential game-tying field goal was blocked with just 16 seconds remaining to seal the Homewood win, 31-28.

In contrast to the triple overtime win over Vestavia Hills last week, it was the Panthers (2-3, 2-3) who fell behind 21-0 Friday, as Homewood (1-4, 1-3) reeled off three consecutive touchdowns in the first 7:32 of the opening quarter.

The Patriots got going early when Stephen Baggett connected with junior Aaron Ernest for 85 yards and the score on the first play from scrimmage.

After holding the Panthers to three-and-out, the Patriots went right back down the field and capped the drive with a quarterback sneak by Baggett to increase the lead to 14-0.

Pelham quarterback Tripp Martin was picked off by Homewood’s Randall Nored on the next series, and the Patriots went right back to the end zone two plays later when Ernest took the end-around reverse 16 yards to go up, 21-0.

The Panthers appeared to cut the lead by seven on the ensuing kickoff when Ryan Williams returned the kick 95 yards for the score, but blocking in the back was called on Pelham, giving the home team the ball at the 50.

The Panther drive stalled and Haynes had his first field goal of the game blocked, this time from 37 yards out, before the Pelham defense put the team back into contention.

Homewood failed to capitalize on the blocked kick when Andrew Hayes picked off a Baggett pass, thus setting up Pelham’s first score of the game on a 35-yard run by Reed Bright on a double reverse to cut the score to 21-7.

The Pelham defense held the Patriots to three-and-out, and Tripp Martin took the ball in on a quarterback sneak to cut the deficit to seven, 21-14.

The Patriots started the second half like they did the first, as the defense held the Panthers three-and-out before Ernest picked up his third score of the game on a 67-yard option run.

The Panthers gambled and went for it on fourth down on the next possession, but the Patriots held strong and forced the turnover on downs.

Homewood once again failed to capitalize on the fourth-down stop when Bernard Hollman’s kick sailed, giving the ball back to the Panthers.

Ryan Williams got the Panthers back to within one score with 17 seconds left in the third quarter when he scampered 16 yards to cut Homewood’s lead, 28-14.

Hollman added the Patriots’ final points with 9:01 left in the game on a 26-yard field goal, but the Pelham defense would give the Panthers a chance to win the game.

After swapping possessions, Pelham’s Hudson Pitts nailed Homewood’ Christian Jackson as Jackson took the handoff, sending the ball flying into the arms of Carrington Lewis.

Four plays later, Dominique Harris took the ball in from 8 yards to cut the lead to 31-28.

The Pelham defense forced the Patriots to punt on the next possession, but the Panthers’ drive ended when Haynes’ kicked was blocked for the second time of the game.

Despite gaining just 32 yards of total offense, the Panthers regrouped to gain 224 yards on the ground and 178 through the air for a total of 402 yards.

Martin was sacked five times on the night.

Williams finished with 191 all-purpose yards, including 63 on the ground, 42 through the air and 86 on returns, despite the called back kickoff return for a touchdown.

The Panthers travel to cross-town rival Thompson on Friday for the Battle of 31. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.