ALEXANDER CITY, Alabama -- Benjamin Russell used a balanced offensive attack as the Wildcats defeated Pelham 41-14 in a big Class 6A Region 3 contest at the Martin-Savarese Stadium on Thursday night. With the win, the Wildcats secured a playoff spot, and it went after that Region 3 #2 seed in the playoffs. Pelham could have been eliminated from the playoffs with this loss.
Benjamin Russell (5-2, 3-1) hit on some big plays from their superstar Malcolm Simmons in the game. "I feel like we responded when needed," said Wildcats head coach Smitty Grider. "Malcolm made so many big plays and will do that every Friday night. Really proud of our defense. This is a big win for us. We needed this win. Even when Malcolm gets doubled, we still need to get him the ball. We do have certain plays just to get him the ball."
Simmons first big play of the game happened on special teams. With 8:14 left in the first quarter, Simmons raced 92 yards on a punt return and just blew past the Pelham defenders for the score. With the touchdown, Benjamin Russell took an early 7-0 lead. "When I saw the ball bounce a couple of times, I said to myself, I'm going to get it and take it to the end zone," said Wildcats WR Simmons. "As soon as I made my first cut, I thought touchdown all the way."
With 4:10 left in the first quarters, Simmons and the Wildcats offense struck again. Simmons scored in the wildcat position at the 1-yard line, and Benjamin Russell took a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter. Pelham (4-3, 1-3) responded to the Wildcats score early in the second quarter when Clayton Mains scored on a 2-yard touchdown run, and the Panthers cut the Wildcats lead to 13-7.
Benjamin Russell scored again on a big play when Gabe Benton found Simmons over the middle, and he raced 68 yards for a Wildcats touchdown. With the score, Benjamin Russell led 19-7. Pelham kept fighting for most of the game, and with a big fourth-down fake punt around midfield, the Panthers converted a drove down the field for a score. With 1:35 left in the third quarter, Mains scored again on a 6-yard touchdown run that he would not be denied. With the score, Pelham trimmed the Wildcats lead down to 19-14 late in the third quarter.
On the next Benjamin Russell drive, the Wildcats offense responded again. With 10:45 left in the fourth quarter, Chris Foster scored on a 14-yard touchdown run and pretty much put the game out of reach. With the score, Benjamin Russell led 26-14 early in the fourth quarter.
With 5:23 left in the game, Ta Wilson scored on a two-yard touchdown run, and Simmons added the two-point conversion, and the Wildcats led 34-14 late in the game. With 43 seconds left in the game, Foster scored again, and Benjamin Russell took the 41-14 lead. "We gave up big plays early and got behind, but a halftime, we told them to get the game back to one score, and our kids did that," said Panthers head coach Mike Vickery. "Once we got there, we just had some things go against us that extended their drives. Once you get down two scores, it gets us out of our gameplay, and that is not our strength right now. But congratulations to Benjamin Russell; they have a great team, and Coach Grider does a great job with their team."
Next, for both teams, Pelham will travel to Homewood, while Benjamin Russell will travel to Briarwood Christian. Both games will be key in the Region 3 standings.