In front of an energized crowd on both sides of the field, Clay-Chalkville rolled up over 400 yards of rushing offense and nearly 500 total yards, ultimately winning 38-7 to remain undefeated and give the Panthers their first loss.
The Cougars (4-0, 3-0) finished with two rushers over 100 yards – quarterback Hayden Moore carried the ball 14 times for 134 yards, and Sidney Battle finished with 15 carries for 123.
“That was what we wanted to do,” Clay-Chalkville head coach Jerry Hood said. “They’re (Pell City) a good football team. We felt like two tight-end (formations) would cause them problems. A lot of plays, it was just, ‘Line up and whip your guy.’”
The crucial sequence came just before halftime. With the Panthers (3-1, 2-1) trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, an offsides penalty on fourth-and-1 gave the Cougars a first down. Eight plays later, Moore found receiver Eric Blockum in the back of the end zone to make it a two-score game.
The Panthers failed to move the ball, and a short punt by Ira Burch set Clay-Chalkville up at the Pell City 45- yard line with 1:48 left in the half. This time it took five plays – Moore finished a 23-yard scramble by twisting his way into the end zone. At halftime, Clay-Chalkville led 21-0.
“I am proud of our defense,” Pell City head coach Brooks Dampeer said after the game. “They didn’t give up the big play, which is what we preached all week.
“(Clay-Chalkville) has a lot of advantages in terms of athletic ability and size and strength, but we can’t do anything about those. We made them drive the ball 10, 11, 12 plays. They just finished.”
On offense, Pell City struggled to make opportunities count. After the Cougars made it 7-0 on a Battle touchdown to cap their first drive of the game, Pell City responded by quickly driving inside the Clay-Chalkville 20-yard line.
A missed field goal was erased by an illegal substitution penalty against the Cougars. The very next play, however, Burch lost the football inside the 5-yard line. The Cougars recovered, ending the drive.
“They (Pell City) were going to score right there, and we kind of snuffed the life out of them,” Hood said.
Burch finished with nine carries for 22 yards, and caught three passes for another 28.
“He’s a great player,” Hood said. “I told (Dampeer) before the game, there are some All-Star games this summer he needs to be in.
“We knew going in, 11 is the guy. We were able to stay where we should be most of the time.”
After a touchdown by Clay-Chalkville’s Terelle West made it 28-0 on their first drive of the second half, the Panthers put together a 64-yard march to dent the scoreboard. Williamson scored from a yard out to cap the drive, and senior Ryan Curran added the extra point to make it 28-7.
Pell City’s leading rusher was Williamson, who finished with 13 carries for 52 yards from behind center. He completed 13 of 22 passes, with an interception, for another 84 yards.
“We knew we had to play well,” Dampeer said. “We’ll go back and look at the film and see some things we did well. But we turned the ball over inside the 5, we dropped a pass on a third-down conversion. Those kinds of things.”
The Cougars drove 80 yards on their ensuing possession, capping things with a 26-yard field goal by Patrick Millican. Reserve tailback DeAndres Merriweather scored from 6 yards away to close the scoring.
Dampeer said that, while the game was a big one, his focus is to look forward.
“I promise you, all we told our players was that this is the next game,” he said. “People showed up, and I’m proud of that, proud of the community. This wasn’t a make-or-break game; it was just the next game.”
Both teams will be in non-region action next week. Pell City will travel to face Oak Mountain High, while Clay-Chalkville will visit Pinson.
Contact Will Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.