Panthers fall at Opelika to end region play

By Chris Megginson | For the Reporter

OPELIKA – Pelham was unable to claw its way out of an early hole as the Opelika Bulldogs turned a 34-point first-half lead into a 41-21 win on Friday, Oct. 27.

Opelika scored on its first two offensive series after holding Pelham to a pair of three-and-outs, and then returned a pick-six to take a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

“It was a tough first quarter. We came out and played a little flat there in the beginning of the game, which is totally on me as the coach. Credit Opelika, they came out and jumped on us fast,” Pelham Coach Tom Causey said.

It was 27-0 before Pelham found the end zone on a touchdown run by Dillon Peterson. Opelika led 34-7 at the half.

Nic Blackburn led Pelham with 139 yards rushing on 16 carries, including a late third quarter touchdown that made it 34-14.

The Panthers answered an early fourth-quarter touchdown by Opelika with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Matt Rye to Brandon Sledge. Rye finished with 69 yards on 5-of-13 passing and 68 yards rushing on 12 carries. He threw three interceptions.

“We came out and played Pelham football in the second half. I’m proud of the way we finished the game,” Causey said. “Hopefully we can build on the way we played in the second half and work better next week and work on getting better on the little things instead of letting the little things roll into big things.”

Ladarius Rice had nine tackles to lead the defense, followed by eight each from Donnie Ball and Dorion Tolbert

Pelham (4-5) finishes 3-3 in Class 6A Region 3 and will travel to John Carroll (3-6) on Nov. 3 to close the regular season. Opelika closes out region play at 5-1 and 7-3 overall.