Chelsea clinches playoff berth with last minute field goal

Published 11:09 pm Friday, October 16, 2015

Jay Vickers looks in a catch during Chelsea's thrilling come-from-behind win against Pell City on Oct. 16. (For the Reporter / Cari Dean)

Jay Vickers looks in a catch during Chelsea’s thrilling come-from-behind win against Pell City on Oct. 16. (For the Reporter / Cari Dean)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

CHELSEA – After back-to-back losses on the road to top area and state opponents Opelika and Benjamin Russell, Chelsea returned home on Oct. 16 in search of its first win in almost a month against Pell City in an effort to clinch a playoff berth. The Hornets did just that, but needed all 48 minutes of play to get the job done, clinching the win with a go-ahead field goal with under a minute left via a Tyler Thomas 38-yarder.

Chelsea’s crackerjack quarterback Matt Marquet started the scoring on the night with a 10-yard run in the first quarter to put the Hornets up 7-0 early over the visitors from Pell City. Back-to-back second quarter touchdowns gave the visiting Panthers a 13-7 lead at the break. A Sergio Alvarez field goal put Pell City up 16-7 in the fourth.

To the Hornets and Hornet fans, this situation was an eerie dose of déjà vu. A year ago, aftr such a strong 5-0 start, Chelsea lost four straight region games and missed the playoffs. This year, on the heels of back-to-back losses after a strong 5-0 start to the 2015 campaign, emotions were tense leading into the fourth quarter of this contest, trailing 16-7.

But Chris Elmore’s squad showed this team is not last year’s team. AJ Jones capped off a Chelsea scoring drive with a one yard touchdown plunge in the fourth quarter to bring the panthers back within a field goal at 16-14. The Chelsea defense held all quarter after giving up two straight 40-plus point games on the road, and didn’t relinquish a point the whole quarter. Then, with time winding down and the game on the line, Thomas calmly pounded the 38-yarder home to put the Hornets up with under a half minute to play in the game, sealing the win and clinching a playoff berth in the process.

Marquet ran 18 times for 100 yards and a score and also was 12-for-30 throwing the ball for 186 more yards and a single pick. Jones racked up 70 yards and a score on 19 touches while Zalon Reynolds only carried eight times for 17 yards. Blake Travelstead led the defense with six tackles on the night.