Photo: Gadsden City High’s D’Javi Byers (21) fends off Bob Jones’ D.J. Johnson during the Titans’ 24-20 loss on Sept. 20 at GCHS. (Travis Greene)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The first day of the fall season did not include the Gadsden City High football team’s first victory of 2019.
In Class 7A, Region 4 action on Sept 20, GCHS (0-5, 0-3) had a chance but ultimately fell to visiting Bob Jones by a score of 24-20.
The Titans hung around with the Patriots (1-4, 1-2) for most of the game but Amyyi Maxwell’s 5-yard touchdown run two minutes into the fourth quarter held up as the winning points.
Gadsden City responded to Maxwell’s score with a 12-play, 88-yard drive that was capped by Daniel Sparks’ 30-yard field goal and pulled the hosts within 24-20 with 5:20 left.
The GCHS defense then held Bob Jones to seven yards in three plays, forcing the Patriots to punt from their own 27-yard line with just over three minutes remaining.
The series had a good start with Jakari Embry running for five yards from the GCHS 36, but the next three plays netted one yard. The visitors took over on downs and ran out the game clock.
GCHS head coach Ali Smith was most frustrated with his team’s inability to neutralize the Patriots’ playmakers. Bob Jones had eight plays that resulted in 20 or more yards.
“We’ve got to eliminate the big plays. That’s what happened all year. But our kids played hard and had a lot of fight in them. We’ll get better.”
The teams were relatively close in total yardage, with Bob Jones having a 366 to 311 edge. But the visitors out-rushed GCHS by a 205 to 78-yard margin.
Maxwell was a thorn in the Titans’ side all night. He gained 50 yards on 18 carries and caught four passes for 78 yards. Caden Rose rushed for 120 yards on eight carries.
Quarterback Slate Alford was 12 of 20 in passing for 161 yards. Dylan Ray caught five passes for 47 yards.
Gadsden City junior quarterback DeMarcus Macon (pictured above) had a solid game, completing 17 of 21 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown. Trey Blount had five receptions for 85 yards, while Jayden Lawson and JaQuan Woods each caught four passes, the former for 79 yards and the latter for 39 yards.
C.J. Miller was the Titans’ leading rusher with 36 yards on 10 attempts.
The Patriots’ first possession of the game was halted by an interception by Quinton Densmore, but the Titans fumbled away the ball two plays later. Bob Jones did not advantage of the turnover, however, as Jacob Freuhwaid’s 43-yard field goal attempt came up short midway through the first quarter.
Macon’s 35-yard swing pass to Blount helped set up Spark’s 36-yard field goal in the final minute of the period for a 3-0 GCHS lead.
But Maxwell returned the following kickoff 85 yards to the GCHS 12, and two plays later he ran it into the end zone from three yards out for a 7-3 Bob Jones advantage.
The Titans regained the lead on the next series with Miller’s 1-yard TD run off right tackle. Sparks tacked on the PAT, making it 10-7 in favor of GCHS at the 7:53 mark of the second period.
However, the Madison squad scored the final 10 points of the first half. Alford’s 74-yard touchdown pass to Ray made it 14-10 with just under six minutes to go. Gadsden City held on a fourth down conversion attempt with less than a minute left in the half but Cosey Scarebrook picked off a GCHS pass at midfield. The visitors converted the turnover into points on Freuhwaid’s 29-yard field goal, providing the Patriots with a 17-10 halftime lead.
The Titans drew even at 8:15 of the third quarter when Blount found an opening in the Bob Jones secondary. Macon delivered the ball for a 57-yard touchdown, and Sparks’ extra point tied it at 17-17.
But the Patriots out-scored GCHS 7 to 3 over the final 12 minutes, and Titans lost for the fifth time in as many games.
Gadsden City has an open date this week before traveling to region rival James Clemens on Oct. 3.
“We’re going to work on a lot of fundamentals and operational stuff with coaches and players [during the off week],” said Smith. “We’re going to get better as a football program as a whole.”