Pelham routes Chilton County, finishes region play unbeaten

By CHRIS REIN | Special to the Reporter

Pelham – Pelham finished region play with a perfect 6-0 record with a 41-7 win over Chilton County on Friday night, Oct. 23 at Ned Bearden Stadium. The Panthers improved to 8-1 this season with the win, while the Tigers finished the season winless in region play and dropped to 1-8 overall.

Pelham’s defense was the story of the night, limiting the Tigers to 160 yard of offense while forcing five turnovers. Jaxson Drake led the team with 3 tackles, while Andrew Fields added two more and a sack. Jamal Miles had three interceptions and Fabi Calderon added a fourth and had two critical third down pass breakups.

“Unbelievable,” Pelham head coach Tom Causey said of his defense after the win. “They’ve been really good for the last month and a half really…they’ve played lights-out football. They gave us the ball in great field position…they put us in position to score and that’s basically a defensive score.”

Pelham moved the ball at ease on the ground, racking up 313 yards of offense, while the defense held Chilton County scoreless until late in the fourth quarter. Dylan Peterson again led the Panthers with 152 yards on nine carries and two scores while Gabe Gamble added another 54 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns. Quarterback Will Lankford was 6-of-9 for 82 yards on the night and scored both rushing and passing.

After trading punts, Pelham got on the board when Lankford scrambled to his right and, under extreme duress, heaved the ball to a wide open Chase Christian, who ran the ball the rest of the way into the end zone. Salvador Jimenez’s kick made it 7-0.

Mason Dunkin’s sack on third down and a bad snap on an attempted punt set the Panthers up at the Tiger 36. Gabe Gamble carried it in from the 6 but Jimenez’s tipped PAT bounced off the upright to make it 13-0.

Pelham added to its lead midway through the second quarter when Lankford kept it on the option from 9 yards out, but a bad snap on the kick kept it 19-0.

After a Jamal Miles interception and return on a fake punt set the Panthers up at the Chilton County 18, Peterson needed only one play to extend the lead, taking an option pitch around the left side and jogging untouched into the end zone, making it 27-0 at the half.

Chilton County had only 60 yards of offense in the first half, but doubled that on their first drive of the second half, moving the ball to the Pelham 15. But the interception bug bit again, as Miles picked off his third pass in the end zone to snuff out the threat.

Pelham needed only two plays to extend the lead as Peterson rambled 55 yards around the left side, stiff-arming a Tiger defender at the 20-yard line for his second score.

Chilton County fumbled on its next snap, and Gamble’s second touchdown from 2 yards out made it 41-0 with 4:44 left in the third, and enabled Pelham to get some work for their reserves the rest of the way.

“It was really good to get a lot of young guys in the game and get them an opportunity to play against their starters, and I’m proud of the way they played,” Causey said.

Chilton County’s only score came on a 2-yard run by Rashard Childers midway through the fourth quarter after a blocked punt set the Tigers up at the Panthers’ 25-yard line.

Pelham closes out the regular season at home next Friday night with a final tune-up against playoff-bound Homewood.