Chelsea falls by 3 in final game of season

Published 11:59 pm Friday, November 2, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

CHELSEA – On a cold night at Chelsea High School with temperatures in the 40s and the Hornets hosting the Pell City Panthers with two teams scoring less than 20 points per game, a defensive battle was set to ensue on Friday, Nov. 2, and that’s exactly what happened.

The Hornets came into the game having won two consecutive games after an 0-7 start, while the Panthers had just won for the first time in seven games, which led to two confident teams, but on the defensive side of the ball.

In a physical game that saw its share of shoving matches, the Panthers were able to create one more play defensively to pull off a 10-7 game battled out in the trenches.

The unfortunate aspect for the Hornets was that their defense actually played plenty good enough to win, and the offense played much better than the Panthers’ throughout the night, but missed opportunities in Pell City territory ended up being the difference.

Chelsea got the ball into the Panthers’ territory on seven different occasions throughout the game and got inside their 30-yard line three different times, but were only able to come away with one touchdown on a 42-yard dump off pass to running back Collier Blair.

The touchdown strike came on the Hornets’ third drive of the game and capped off a strong drive by quarterback Turner Griffin, who was 5-of-6 for 71 yards a touchdown and an interception through three drives and had given his team a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Pell City was able to add a field goal after its best drive of the first half to cut the deficit to 7-3, which became the halftime score after Griffin threw an interception deep in the Panthers’ territory on the ensuing drive.

Despite the two interceptions, those were Griffin’s only two incompletions of the first half as he ended 8-of-10 for 105 yards and one touchdown.

Griffin came out and started the second half with a strong 18-yard pass to pick up right where he left off, but eventually the Hornets were forced to punt the ball away, which became the theme of the second half.

Pell City finally took advantage and grabbed not only its first lead of the game but the upper hand on the ensuing drive when the Panthers reeled off a 59-yard touchdown run from Darius Garrett that put them up 10-7 with 8:15 left in the third quarter.

Two possessions later, Chelsea got another strong opportunity thanks to starting the drive near midfield and Blair reeling off a 31-yard run on first down, but the Hornets eventually ended up failing to convert a fourth-and-3, which gave it back to Pell City.

One drive later, after flipping the field, Chelsea got another great opportunity thanks to starting the drive at the Pell City 35-yard line.

After a 10-yard run from Blair gave the Hornets a quick first down, penalties killed what was their best opportunity of the game. Blair reeled off another 8-yard run on the next play, but it was negated by a penalty, before another personal foul eventually set up third-and-26 closer to midfield, which was not converted.

Chelsea got another chance on its next drive after the defense forced another stop. The Hornets eventually got to the Panthers’ 41-yard line before facing third-and-1.

Pell City stepped up and stuffed them on third down, before also stopping Griffin a mere couple of inches short of a first down on fourth-and-2.

Chelsea’s defense, however, stepped up again and gave the offense one last shot at the win with 3:35 left.

The Hornets started at their own 24-yard line and quickly got an 18-yard pass off to get near midfield.

The next two passes were also put on the money by Griffin, but back-to-back drops led to incompletions on both passes. On third-and-10, Griffin’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage, before also failing on fourth down, leading to the final score of 10-7.

Blair, a sophomore, ended the game with 100-plus all-purpose yards and the lone touchdown, while Griffin posted 150-plus passing yards going 12-of-22 with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Chelsea ended the season with an overall record of 2-8 under first-year head coach Dustin Goodwin, but looked much more bought in to end the season with two wins in their last three games. With those wins, as well as the four losses by seven points or less, this team has plenty of reason to be confident next year.