Pelham comeback falls short against Lee-Montgomery in first round

By CHRIS REIN | Special to the Reporter

Pelham – Pelham’s record-setting season ended with a disappointing first-round playoff loss to Lee-Montgomery on Friday, Nov. 6 at Ned Bearden Stadium.

Pelham’s comeback effort fell just short, as a safety early in the first quarter provided the Generals with enough separation for a 23-21 win.

“We just ran out of time,” Pelham head coach Tom Causey said. “We’ve got high-character kids, we’ve got great kids. We had some adversity at the end of the season and our guys kept playing, they never once checked up. That’s a testament to who they are, their parents, and the homes they come out of.”

Lee built a big lead early in the game and then survived Pelham’s strong second-half effort. On the Generals’ opening drive, Christopher Dillihay broke three tackles on a 60-yard end-around to put the visitors up 7-0.

But a disastrous two-play sequence put the Panthers in a deep hole. After an exchange of punts pinned the Panthers on their own 1-yard line, the Lee defense stuffed Pelham running back Dylan Peterson for a safety. Salvador Jimenez boomed the ensuing kickoff from his own 20, but outkicked the Pelham coverage, and Reggie Davis had a full head of steam when he reached the Pelham line, breaking through cleanly for an 83-yard return and 16-0 lead.

Pelham regained some momentum on its next drive, needing only three plays to get on the scoreboard. After a 30-yard completion from Will Lankford to Chase Christian loosened up the Generals’ defense, Peterson sprinted 35 yards off left tackle to the end zone, but Jimenez’s kick with 4:24 left in the first quarter closed out Pelham’s scoring for the half.

After Lee converted a fourth down on the Pelham 3, they extended their lead on a Jakel Williams quarterback sneak midway through the second, and the Generals’ defense kept Pelham from establishing any momentum on the ground to keep it 23-7 at the half.

But Pelham came out of the locker room with renewed momentum to make it a game. After Darius Copeland returned the second half kickoff to the 38, Pelham put together its best dive of the night, converting a fourth-and-4 at the Lee 42-yard line to set up Lankford’s 11-yard keeper on the option.

Seth Branham’s shoestring tackle on fourth down got Pelham the ball right back on the ensuing drive, and the Panthers again drove down the field. But a bad snap derailed Jimenez’s 35-yard field goal attempt, points that later proved critical to the final margin.

Pelham’s defense pitched a shutout in the second half and backed Lee up on its next possession, then partially blocked a punt, giving the offense the ball back in the red zone.

A bad exchange at the 3-yard line gave Lee the ball, but the Generals also fumbled on their next snap, giving possession right back to Pelham. Peterson scored his second touchdown of the night around right end from five yards out to cut the margin to 2 with 6:49 left in the game.

From there, Pelham embarked on what looked to be the game-winning drive, but a big sack on third down at the Lee 43 eventually led to a turnover on downs.

Peterson rushed 32 times for 180 yards and two scores, but Pelham was one-dimensional, completing just one pass on six attempts. Branham and fellow linebacker Braden Marlowe led the defense with eight tackles each.

Pelham finishes with an 8-3 record and their first region title in 14 years.