By Tommy Shields/Sports Correspondent
In a battle for playoff positioning, Huntsville edged out Gadsden City, 35-33, last Friday (Oct. 26) at GCHS.
The Panthers (6-3, 5-3) clinched the third spot in Class 6A, Region 6, while the Titans (5-4,4-3) ended up securing the fourth seed playoff spot after Pell City’s win over Oxford.
The Panthers pulled out the last second win on a one-yard touchdown pass from Charles Hicklen to Mark Manosky with 18.4 seconds remaining in the game.
“We played hard, ” said GCHS head coach Joe Billingsley. “But we made too many mistakes to win such a tight ball game. [Huntsville] made the big plays when they needed to and we were unable to capitalize on all their mistakes.”
With the Titans trailing 27-20, sophomore Gabriel Ford weaved his way through the Panther defense from 27 yards out to pull the hosts within 27-26.
LeGerald Malone’s 11-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes left gave Gadsden City a 32-27 lead.
A stalled Panther drive resulted in a punt, but the Huntsville defense stepped up big to force a Titan punt, which gave Huntsville the ball back with 54 seconds remaining in the game.
The Panthers kicked in their two-minute passing attack with five quick pop passes and a breathtaking catch by Corey Wells that brought the ball all the way down to the GCHS 1. Huntsville then scored on the next play and Hicklen ran in the two-point conversion to secure the win.
Gadsden City had a good start, scoring on its first three drives.
The Titans drew first blood on a five-play, 74-yard drive that was capped off by a 22-yard bust up the gut by LaGerald Malone at the 9:34 mark of the first quarter.
The Titans kept the bruising rushing attack up on their next drive, with Jaiye
Miller punching it in on a one-yard bust up the middle.
Austin Piazza added the PAT, making it 13-0 at 5:35.
Gadsden City’s third score of the first quarter came after Tray Smothers took an errant Charles Hicklen pass to the house on a 35-yard interception return.
But Huntsville began its comeback on the following drive, courtesy of Hicklen’s 44-yard play action quarterback draw up the middle for the Panthers’ first score of the night with 6:13 left in the first half.
Hicklen took it in the end zone on Huntsville’s next drive, this time from 20 yards out to close the gap to 20-13 following a failed PAT.
Joseph Savoy to the house from 36 yards out on the next Huntsville possession, tying the score at 20-20 going into the half.
Huntsville then scored on the first drive of the second half, with Hicklen going up the gut from 10 yards out.
For Gadsden City, quarterback C.J. Moore went 2-for-7 in passing for 129 yards.
Hicklen completed 3-of-7 for 148 yards. He also carried the balls 19 times for 149 yards three touchdowns.
Gadsden City ends the regular season on Friday at home against Hewitt-Trussville.