Photo: Gadsden City High’s Ahmad Bell (left) and JaBraun McNeil (21) attempt to tackle Bob Jones’ Dylan Ray during the Titans’ 34-3 loss last Friday (Oct. 13) at GCHS. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Gadsden City High’s opportunity to secure a home playoff game was literally picked apart by Bob Jones last Friday (Oct. 13) at Titan Stadium.
Every one of Gadsden City’s four third quarter possessions ended in four interceptions, three by senior cornerback Terrell Jennings. Two of those picks led to touchdowns, and by the time the third quarter buzzer sounded, the Patriots had extended a seven-point halftime lead into 28-point advantage en route to a 34-3 Class 7A, Region 4 victory.
Except for a three-play sequence in early in the fourth quarter that yielded 34 yards and three first downs, the Gadsden City offense never got untracked. The Titans ended up with 110 total yards, with only 52 on the ground. The hosts mustered just 29 yards in the first half. Out of Gadsden City’s 12 series for the game, five ended in a punt, four on turnovers, two on failed fourth down conversion attempts and one on a field goal.
The Patriots (5-3, 4-1) had no such difficulty moving the ball in amassing 387 total yards, including 287 via the rush. Quarterback Caden Rose finished with 215 total yards. He rushed 13 times for 115 yards and a score and was 11-for-18 in passing for 100 yards and a touchdown.
With the loss, Gadsden City (3-5, 3-2) currently is tied with Sparkman for third place in the region standings. GCHS will face the Senators this week on the road, with the winner of that game likely clinching the region’s third seed.
“[Bob Jones] was doing the things that we wanted to do,” said GCHS head coach Bart Sessions. “A lot of our problems were self-inflicted, and Bob Jones was able to maintain their discipline and maybe we lost ours. [Bob Jones] remained calm when something bad happened and made a play or two, which frustrated us and led to us making another mistake. Injuries also began to mount for us, which certainly was a factor. We had some kids stepped in and play their hearts out, but it’s tough to ask them to come into a game like this one and play 60 or 70 snaps.
“I think our kids put so much into this game that at times the emotions poured out in a negative way at times. We’ve got to learn how to manage that and put those emotions aside and go out and execute.”
For the Titans, Ryan Sparks completed 7-of-19 passes for 58 yards. Jamontez Woods finished with 45 rushing yards on 19 carries.
After a scoreless first quarter, Jonathan Kilgo’s 31-yard field goal provided Gadsden City with its first and only lead at the 10:30 mark of the second period.
That advantage lasted for a little over two minutes. On the next series, Rose zigged and zagged through the GCHS defense for a 40-yard touchdown run. Jacob Fruehwald kicked the first of his four PATS of the night for a 7-0 lead at 8:27.
The Titans failed to convert on a fourth down on their next drive, and Bob Jones made GCHS pay for that risk when Fruehwald pushed through a 36-yard field goal with 2:47 left before halftime.
The Titans’ decision to defer the opening kickoff to the second half failed to reap dividends when Gadsden City was forced to punt. Three plays into the ensuing Patriot possession, Rose threw a short screen pass to Kamron Kaba-Williams, who took it 57 yards to the GCHS 17. Hatchett ran it in on the next play, making it 17-3 at 9:12 of the third quarter.
That was the beginning of the end for the hosts.
Jennings’ interception on the next GCHS series led to Rose’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Pugh, pushing the lead to 24-3.
Jennings’ second pick on the following Titan series did not result in points, but Jaydon Hill intercepted a pass at the GCHS 30 and took it to the house for a pick-six with 2:42 left in the third, effectively putting the game away in the process.
Fruehwald cap the scoring with a 27-yard field goal with 5:09 remaining in the game.
Hatchett rushed 19 times for 85 yards, 79 in the second half.
“For a half, I thought we played right there with them,” said Sessions. “We’ve to learn how to battle through adversity, which probably is one of the hardest things to learn for high school kids nowadays. But we’ve got some great kids who continue to work their tails off, and hopefully we’ll be a better team next week.”