PHS grounds rival Eagles

Published 12:17 am Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pelham High School’s Tucker Thomas slips past an Oak Mountain High School defender during the Panthers’ 16-7 win over the Eagles Sept. 2 at Heardmont Park. (Contributed/Jimmy Mitchell)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

In the week leading up to Pelham’s second game of the regular season, head PHS football coach Brett Burnett spent time taking the team back to the basics.

“We simplified things, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” Burnett said. “Our defensive staff did a great job, and our defense just played lights-out tonight.

“It’s a much better feeling than last week,” Burnett said, referencing the Panthers’ week 1 loss to Hueytown.

The week of preparation paid off for the Panthers, as Pelham (1-1) grounded cross-town rival Oak Mountain High School (1-1) 16-7 in a Sept. 2 defensive slugfest.

“Obviously, we can’t turn the ball over as many times as we did tonight and expect to win,” said Oak Mountain head coach Jeff Harris. “I’ve got to give Pelham credit. They did a good job running the ball and controlling the clock.

“We just shot ourselves in the foot with too many turnovers,” Harris added.

Pelham finished the night with 308 total yards, 224 of which were rushing. The Panthers passed the ball eight times in the contest, and only once in the second half.

Pelham sophomore running back Tyler Brasfield led the Panthers’ rush attack with 117 yards on 18 carries. Despite being knocked out of the game with an injury early in the second quarter, junior Jacob Nichols recorded 80 rushing yards.

Pelham’s first drive of the game ended in a blocked field goal, and both teams’ defensive play led to a scoreless game at the end of the first quarter.

But an interception by Pelham’s Fletcher Johnson early in the second quarter set up a 19-yard scoring pass from PHS quarterback Gray Cato to J.T. Ross.

A blocked extra point attempt gave Pelham a 6-0 lead.

But on Oak Mountain’s ensuing possession, the Eagles quickly drove down the field and scored on a 1-yard run by senior Bradley Bostick.

Mitch Mathias added the extra point for the Eagles to give Oak Mountain a 7-6 lead with 7:04 left in the first half.

After the Eagles stopped the Panthers in the end zone on the next series, Pelham’s John Perko connected on a 14-yard field goal to put the Panthers back on top 9-7.

The Eagles’ final drive of the first half ended when Ross recovered an Oak Mountain fumble and ran it back 54 yards for the Panther touchdown.

Pelham placekicker Justin Nolen completed the point-after attempt as time expired in the second quarter to give Pelham a 16-7 lead.

Despite 12 changes of possession in the second half, neither team lit up the scoreboard after halftime.