Pelham rolls Bibb County, starts 2-0 for first time since 2013

Published 12:46 am Saturday, September 1, 2018

By Chris Megginson | For the Reporter

CENTERVILLE – Pelham Football is 2-0 for the first time in five years and in dominating fashion. After winning its season opener over Calera, 45-24, last week, Pelham traveled to Bibb County High School on Aug. 31, taking down the Choctaws, 42-12. It was Pelham’s first trip to Bibb County since 1983.

“I thought our guys did a great job of responding after a win. Sometimes it’s hard getting them back focused in. That was a fairly big win last week (over Calera). I though tour senior leadership stepped up big this past week, especially on Tuesday, which was a rough day around the state. It was really hot. The guys had a great week of practice, and I think it showed up in their play tonight,” said Pelham Coach Tom Causey. “I was really proud of the way we came back out after the lightning delay and didn’t let up.”

Quarterback Matthew Rye drove the Panthers down the field on the opening possession of the game and capped the drive with a QB keeper for a touchdown to go up 7-0. The ensuing kickoff hit and fell still as Brandon Sledge raced down to recover it for Pelham. Moments later, the game was delayed for weather.

Coming out of the delay, Pelham missed a field goal, but Bibb County fumbled its hand off exchange on its first play from scrimmage, giving the ball back to the Panthers inside the Choctaws’ 20. Pelham punched it in for a 14-0 lead with 5:12 to play in the opening quarter.

Pelham scored once more in the first quarter and made it 28-0 with 10:38 to play in the second quarter. Sledge capped the first half with a 45-yard punt return for a touchdown to extend the Panthers’ halftime lead to 35-0. Sledge also had a touchdown run as part of his five-carries, 26-yard night on offense.

It was 42-0 before Bibb County got on the board with six points in the third quarter and six more in the fourth.

Rye finished the night with 138 yards total offense, completing 3-of-6 passes for 80 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Cook. Rye also rushed nine times for 58 yards and a TD.

Dylan Peterson and Xavier Langford also had touchdown runs for the Panthers in the game. Peterson had 41 yards rushing on eight carries, while Langford carried the ball six times for 39 yards and was 3-of-3 passing for 24 yards.

The Panthers recovered two onside kicks and two fumbles in the game to keep them on a short field most of the night. Ryan Jewel led the defense with 10 tackles, while Braden Marlow had six stops, and recovered both a fumble and onside kick. Sina Vatany, who had two tackles, also recovered a fumble.

“I think we only played 17 defensive snaps in the first half. I thought our defense did a good job,” Causey said. “The turnovers created by our special teams and our defense, us being able to steal possessions that way the last two weeks has been big for us. If you just look at our yardage it wouldn’t be that much. We play on a short field because of our special teams and our defense, and that’s the reason we’re 2-0.”

Pelham will open Class 6A, Region 5 play on Sept. 7 when the Panthers travel to Homewood for their third consecutive road game to start the season.

The Patriots are ranked No. 7 in Class 6A entering Week 2 and have won the last four straight and six of the last seven meetings against Pelham.

“Every one of those region games is huge, and Homewood the last couple of years has had our number,” Causey said. “They’re one heck of a good football team. It will be a great opportunity for us to measure ourselves and see where we’re really at right now.”