PELHAM – After a back-and-fourth first half, the Thompson Warriors held the Pelham Panthers scoreless in the final two quarters to seal a 34-14 victory over their cross-town rivals on Sept. 23.
The Warriors outgained Pelham 446-171 in total yardage, and took advantage of a costly Panther turnover deep in PHS territory early in the third quarter to shift momentum in their favor for the remainder of the contest.
“After last week, the game ended on a heartbreaking note. And our kids are young, so you wonder how they will bounce back,” THS head coach Mark Freeman said, referencing the Warriors last-second loss to Oak Mountain the previous week. “They’re young, but they’re resilient. I’m proud of our coaching staff for getting our kids together.
“We’re getting better. We’ve got a long way to go,” Freeman added.
Pelham jumped on the scoreboard first after PHS defensive back Derrick Bush recovered a fumble from Thompson quarterback Caleb Ragland and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. Jose Jimenez’ PAT put the Panthers up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Thompson answered with three scoring drives of its own, as Josh Huner scored on a seven-yard touchdown run, Shadrick Byrd scored on a three-yard touchdown run and Logan Brown connected on a 38-yard field goal to put THS on top 17-7 at halftime.
Pelham answered on its first drive of the second half on a 65-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Drake, and forced Thompson to punt on its next possession with the Warriors leading 17-14 with 1:56 left in the third quarter.
But on the first play from scrimmage on the Panthers’ next drive, the Warriors recovered a PHS fumble at the Pelham 11-yard line, setting up a touchdown run by Thompson’s Joseph Ford a few plays later.
“If we get that drive down here instead of turn it over, you know, who knows? But that’s football, and that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes,” PHS coach Tom Causey said of the fumble. “But our kids never quit and kept fighting. We’ll come back next week and get ready for a region game at Wetumpka.”
Thompson scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, as Corey Burroughs scored on a 56-yard touchdown run and Brown connected on a 35-yard field goal.
For Thompson, Ragland finished the night connecting on 4-of-13 passing attempts for 91 yards. Huner connected on 6-of-12 passing attempts for 84 yards. Thompson’s rushing leader was Burroughs, who racked up 111 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Moe Edwards and Austin Davis were receiving leaders for the Warriors, reeling in four catches for 61 yards and two catches for 57 yards, respectively. The defensive leader for THS was Jalen Rayam, who recorded eight solo tackles.
For Pelham, quarterback Elisha Hudson connected on six of 15 passing attempts for 64 yards. Nicholas Blackburn was Pelham’s rushing leader, racking up 80 yards on 26 carries. Kasey Clark was Pelham’s receiving leader, reeling in three passes for 38 yards.
Jon Drake and Rodney Pettway were Pelham’s defensive leaders, recording 12 and 9 tackles, respectively.