Pelham locks up playoff spot with win over rival Helena

Published 12:12 am Saturday, October 27, 2018

By JEREMY RAINES | For the Reporter

Pelham – On a 56 degree chilly, windy, and misty night in Shelby County, the Helena Huskies traveled to Pelham high school as the two rivals squared off against one another with a playoff spot on the line.

In a rivalry series Pelham leads 2-0 all time, the Panthers made sure to keep that streak going, not wanting to be the first team to lose to the Huskies and went on to take down Helena 37-7 to claim a playoff spot.

Despite Helena playing extremely well in the last four games, Pelham set the tone for the night on the Huskies’ very first drive by picking off Huskies’ quarterback Luke Stamba.

Pelham took the ball over on the Helena 40 shortly after.

After driving the ball down to the Helena 25, Pelham ended up having to settle for a field to put the first points of the game on the board with 4:03 in the first quarter for a 3-0 lead.

With under six minutes left in first half, Helena threatened deep in Pelham territory, but strong play from the Panthers’ defense stepped up and forced a turnover on down.

Helena’s defense held the Panthers’ offense to force another punt, but on the Huskies very first play of the drive, a hard hit by Pelham forced running back Marquise Johnson to fumble on the Huskies’ 33-yard line. As a result of the impact, Johnson would later be carried off the field and to the hospital.

After a brief time period of silence during Johnson’s injury, tension between the two teams started to flare.

Helena committed a costly 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty which allowed Pelham to attain great field position and set up a touchdown pass across the middle.

This extended Pelham’s lead to 10-0 with just over two minutes in the first half.

Not slowing down any, Panther quarterback Xavier Lankford scampered for another touchdown just before end of the first half giving the Panthers a 17-0 lead going into the break.

In the second half, Pelham wasted no time picking up a score on its first drive in the third quarter. The PAT was blocked, but the lead increased to 23-0.

Later on in the quarter, Pelham receiver Edward Gipson picked up a huge gain across the middle of the field for another Panthers’ touchdown, making it a 30-0 Pelham lead with 4:09 left in third.

That followed with several more unsportsmanlike calls during the duration of the game for both teams, and there were a few moments when the referees had to separate the two teams from altercations.

With 9:59 left in the game, Pelham once again scored, this time on a jump pass, giving the panthers a 37-0 lead.

Helena eventually got on the board, as Stamba capped off an impressive drive taking the score to 37-7, which became the final.

Pelham was led by Matthew Rye, who totaled 108 yards and two touchdowns passing.

Lankford added two rushes for 15 yards and a touchdown, while adding two passes for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Kasey Clark was the leading receiver with three catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, while Gipson had two rushes for 15 yards and two catches for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Dorian Tolbert had 13 tackles, while Ryan Jewell and Phillip Duke both added seven tackles.

Helena finished the night with 266 total yards of offense.

Pelham will now have a bye week during the final week of the regular season before traveling to Hartselle for the first round of the playoffs.

The Huskies’ season will feature one last game on Friday Nov. 2 against in-county foe Calera.