Pelham takes down Calera in 6A showdown

Published 11:47 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

CALERA – The first quarter was all Calera, but the Pelham Panthers took over from there to engineer a hard-fought victory over the Eagles in the season opener for both teams at Ricky M. Cairnes Stadium on Aug. 24.

In a game attended by University of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, the Eagles, playing their first game in Class 6A after moving up from 5A earlier this year, jumped out to a 21-7 lead late in the first quarter on a 50-yard touchdown run from Tyler Ray, a 52-yard pass from quarterback Cornelius Brown to Quindarius Crews and a pick-six from D.J. Edwards.

Pelham’s lone touchdown of the first quarter came on a 14-yard pass from quarterback Matthew Rye to Brandon Sledge, but from there the Panthers caught fire en route to a 45-24 victory.

“We been preaching it all year long to our guys about responding and not reacting. We knew adversity was going to come, and we were really blessed it happened right away,” said Pelham head coach Tom Causey. “We’ve got a mature group of young men, 26 seniors, and they played their tails off. It was a good win. It was a good team win. It was our guys on the boundary. You talk about carrying the stone, and we had 81 guys carry the stone tonight. If we continue to do that and get better every week, we’ll be all right.”

Pelham scored 21 unanswered points in the second quarter, one of which came after Phillip Duke recovered a Calera fumble to set up a Rye 14-yard rushing touchdown and another, which came one play after the PHS defense forced the ball over on downs.

The teams traded field goals leading into the final quarter, and Pelham widened its lead in the fourth with a pair of touchdowns.

For Pelham, Rye ended the night completing 8 of 11 passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns, and carried the ball 12 times for 48 yards and a touchdown. Cody Ferguson caught two passes for 20 yards and a touchdown, Brandon Sledge ended the night with nine rushes for 104 yards, two catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns and Dylan Peterson racked up 56 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Ben Rushton also added a touchdown on a fumble recovery.

Defensively for the Panthers, Pat Durr and Ryan Jewel each had six tackles, Phillip Duke had two tackles and two interceptions and Cam Carr had a tackle and an interception.

PHS kicker Greg Blue hit five of five PATs, five of his seven kickoffs were touchbacks and had a 35-yard field goal.

Brown completed 26 of 50 passing attempts for 363 yards, and crews reeled in six catches for 126 yards. Tyler Agnew racked up 95 yards on 11 rushing attempts. Trenton Yowe and Dylan Killingsworth led the Eagle defense with six tackles apiece.