Pelham passes Patriots

Published 11:31 pm Friday, October 21, 2011

Pelham High School’s Chisom Muruako takes down Homewood High School quarterback Stephen Baggett during the Panthers’ 23-14 victory over the Patriots. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Pelham is now in a three-way tie with Vestavia and Spain Park for the two remaining Class 6A, Region 6 playoff spots after the Panthers downed the visiting Homewood Patriots 23-14 Oct. 21.

“Next week will really be like a playoff game for us,” said Pelham head coach Brett Burnett. “It was a good team effort, and a great win for us.”

PHS junior Eli Beall led the Panthers’ ground attack, recording 147 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. Quarterback Tanner Adams completed five of seven attempts for 51 yards.

After a strong defensive effort by both teams forced a scoreless first quarter, Pelham struck first late in the second quarter on a 4-yard touchdown run by Beall. John Perko’s PAT gave Pelham a 7-0 lead.

Homewood answered on its next drive, scoring on a 5-yard touchdown pass and successful PAT.

On Pelham’s second possession of the third quarter, Beall broke free to score on a 51-yard touchdown run. Perko’s PAT gave PHS a 14-7 lead.

The Patriots tied the game again late in the third quarter on a 32-yard touchdown pass and successful PAT.

With a few seconds left in the third quarter, PHS junior Trey Cranford recovered a Homewood fumble on the Patriots’ 7-yard line.

A few plays later, Fletcher Johnson put the Panthers back on top on a 5-yard touchdown run. After Perko’s PAT was tipped and fell short, Pelham took a 20-14 lead.

After forcing Homewood to punt on its ensuing possession, Pelham capped off a 39-yard drive with a 33-yard Perko field goal, giving Pelham a 23-14 lead with just under four minutes to play in the game.

The Pelham defense held the Patriots on their ensuing drive, forcing Homewood to turn the ball over on downs to the home team.

Because Vestavia and Spain Park also won Oct. 21, the three teams must win their Oct. 28 matchups to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Pelham will travel to Hewitt-Trussville, Spain Park hosts Clay-Chalkville and Vestavia will host Shades Valley High School.

“Our defense showed a tremendous effort tonight,” Burnett said. “And our offense made some key plays to keep us on top.”