Turnovers doom Calera in loss at Pell City

Published 11:38 pm Friday, August 31, 2018

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

PELL CITY – In their second game at the 6A level, the Calera Eagles were looking for a bounce back performance on Friday, Aug. 31, but six turnovers and two blocked field goals prevented any chance of a win as the mistakes resulted in a 27-7 loss to Pell City on the road.

One week removed from a tough 45-24 loss to Pelham to open the season, the Calera Eagles (0-2) still find themselves struggling to put a complete performance together in the move to the 6A classification.

Calera fumbled on its opening offensive series of the game as Pell City wasted no time capitalizing on the mistake. The Panthers ran it in from five yards out to make it 7-0 early, but the biggest momentum shift came late in the first quarter.

Calera backup quarterback Edwin Karanja, who started the first quarter in place of Cornelius Brown, helped lead a drive all the way to the Pell City one yard line, but on second and goal a fumbled snap moved the ball back to the 7-yard line. After failing to convert on third and goal, Calera lined up for a 25-yard field trailing 7-0 but the kick was blocked and returned 85 yards for a touchdown as Pell City quickly moved ahead 14-0 late in the first quarter.

Following the blocked kick, Pell City extended its lead to 21-0 on a two-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter as Calera needed to find something quickly to avoid a blowout.

The lone bright spot for the Eagles came a few minutes before halftime as Brown led Calera down the field as running back Justin Tyus capped off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to cut the Panthers lead to 21-7.

Despite outgaining Pell City 337 to 164 in total yards of offense, the majority of offensive possessions resulted in no points because of turnovers or miscues.

Still trailing 21-7 late in the third quarter, Calera had another opportunity to put points on the board after Brown completed a pass to Quindarius Crews who made some nifty moves all the way to the Pell City 15-yard line.

After the drive stalled, the Eagles lined up for another field goal try but a bad snap was recovered by Pell City.

As the fourth quarter began, the rain began to fall at Pete Rich-Alumni Stadium and the turnovers continued.

Pell City scored its final touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter on a two-yard touchdown run to make it 27-7.

Calera’s two offensive series in the fourth quarter resulted in a punt and a lost fumble with 1:37 to play as the Panthers ran out the clock for the win.

After the game, Calera head coach Andrew Zow said going forward the Eagles need to control what they can do to be successful.

“We just have to continue to grind away and our focus should be more on controlling what we can do,” Zow said. “We’re in a tough region, bumping up to some tough opponents but at the same time it’s what we do. It’s self-inflicted and by no means do I think we were outmanned. I felt like they were more prepared and a better team. We’ve got some athletes but we’ve got to become a team and until we do that the moments like tonight are going to happen.”

Things do not get easier going forward for the Eagles as they open region play next week on the road against Wetumpka.