Pelham outpaced by Benjamin Russell in road test

Published 11:12 pm Thursday, October 12, 2023

By HENRY ZIMMER | Special to the Reporter

ALEXANDER CITY ­– In a battle of the big cats, it was the Wildcats who came out on top as the Pelham Panthers fell to the Benjamin Russell Wildcats, 41-14, on Thursday, Oct. 12.

“I am proud of our guys for coming back and continuing to give effort and not quit,” Pelham coach Mike Vickery said. “Hats off to Benjamin Russell.”

Ben Russell’s Malcolm Simmons helped the Wildcats secure the win, as the senior Auburn commit led the game with three touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

Simmons started things off with a bang, housing a Pelham punt from 92 yards out. The wide receiver then turned around and took a direct snap on the Wildcats’ next drive to take his team up 13-0 in the first quarter.

Pelham’s Clayton Mains responded, however, punching in his first of two rushing scores.  Vickery loved the effort from his quarterback and applauded his ability to lead his team.

“He is as tough as I have been around,” Vickery said. “He makes a bunch of plays by sheer will. He is a competitor.”

Simmons scored his third with under five minutes to play in the first half, catching a short route from quarterback Gabe Benton and taking the ball for about 70 yards en route to his score.

Pelham got the ball to open the second half and mounted an extremely impressive drive, converting on three fourth down tries.

Mains capped off the drive that started at Pelham’s 17 with a rushing score to get the game to 19-14.

“We gave up a couple big plays and got behind,” Vickery said. “We thought we could get it within one score, and our kids did what we asked them to do there. But once we got there, we had some things go against us.”

In the fourth, Chris Foster punched in two rushing scores for the home team, and T.J. Wilson added one of his own as the Wildcats found success with the running game.

Benjamin Russell’s defense forced two picks in the second half, one by Qua Marbury and one by Caiden Hyde to stall any momentum Pelham had in the final two frames.

Pelham didn’t quit despite the score. The team utilized freshman quarterback Dylan Smith late, but the offense could not mount the comeback.

Next week, Pelham hits the road to Homewood and Benjamin Russell travels to Briarwood.