Pelham’s season ends in playoffs
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
Turnovers plagued the Pelham Panthers as they fell to the visiting Opelika Bulldogs 49-23 on Nov. 9 in the first round of the 6A state playoffs.
“We gave them two touchdowns in the first half, and you just can’t do that against a good football team,” PHS head coach Brett Burnett said. “I’m proud of our seniors. They came a long way, and there’s some things to be proud of this year.”
Pelham outgained the Bulldogs 388 yards-342 yards. Quarterback Tanner Adams rushed for 104 yards on 14 carries and fullback Eli Beall racked up 101 yards on 18 carries.
The Panthers lit up the scoreboard on their first possession on a 4-yard touchdown run by Adams. Austin Bowen’s PAT split the uprights to give Pelham a 7-0 lead.
Pelham forced Opelika to punt on its ensuing possession, but Kenny Meadows’ fumbled fair catch gave Opelika the ball on the Pelham 6-yard line.
The Bulldogs then scored 14 unanswered points before Pelham placekicker John Perko connected on a 50-yard field goal early in the second quarter to bring the game to 14-10.
Opelika added two touchdowns, with the help of a recovered Pelham fumble, to take a 28-10 lead.
The Panthers answered late in the second quarter on a 2-yard Adams run and successful Bowen PAT to bring the game to 28-17 at the half.
Opelika added another touchdown to start the second half before Pelham found the end zone on a 23-yard run by Beall just a few seconds into the fourth quarter. Bowen’s PAT fell short, bringing the game to 35-23.
A costly Pelham off-sides penalty on third down on the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession eventually led to an Opelika touchdown, giving the visiting team a 42-23 lead.
Adams was then intercepted on the Panthers’ next possession, but Pelham’s Braxton Hoyett recovered a Bulldog fumble on the Pelham 6-yard line a few plays later.
Adams was intercepted again a few plays later and was run back 40 yards for an Opelika touchdown.