Hoover ends Titans’ season in state semifinals


By Chris McCarthy/Editor

Gadsden City High’s quest for the program’s first-ever Super
Six appearance ended on
Friday (Nov. 21) at Region’s Park.

After the Titans (10-3) played top-ranked Hoover (11-2) to a
virtual draw over the first 12 minutes, the bottom fell out when the Bucs
erupted for four touchdowns second-quarter touchdowns – two of which came off
GCHS fumbles – en route to a 42-7 victory in the Class 7A state semifinals.

The two-time defending 6A champion Bucs face Prattville on
Dec. 3 in the 7A championship game in Auburn.

Facing a fierce pass rush that GCHS head coach Matt Scott
later described as “one of the tallest defensive lines I’ve ever seen,” the
Titan offense managed only five first downs and 97 yards of total offense,
including just 31 on the ground.

Gadsden City’s lone score, a 12-yard touchdown pass from
Ahmad DeRamus to Darnell Mooney, came midway through the fourth quarter, well
after the outcome was decided.

Meanwhile, Hoover rolled up 397 total yards, with 275 coming via
the rush.

“You can’t beat [Hoover] if you can’t score some points,
and that made it tough on our defense, because we’re not built to win
low-scoring games, said GCHS head coach Matt Scott. “We’ve been able to control
games offensively and outscore people when we needed to, but we just couldn’t
handle those guys up front, whether it was the run or the pass. Their defensive
line controlled the line of scrimmage. I felt that if we had better ball
security in the first half, it at least would have been an interesting game.
Our kids weren’t intimidated at all; we just didn’t play very well and we
turned the ball over. When that happens, it can get ugly in a hurry.”

Gabe Ford led the GCHS ground game with 55 yards on eight
carries. DeRamus was 6 of 9 in passing for 66 yards.

For Hoover, Marcus Webb rushed 16 times for 145 yards and
two touchdowns, while Bradrick Shaw added 77 yards and three scores on 12
attempts. John Hutcheson completed 5-of-10 passes for 90 yards.

It was a game of field position throughout the first
quarter. Gadsden City was forced to punt three times but also recovered a
fumble on the Bucs’ first possession. But the Titans failed to convert the
turnover into points.

Hoover’s fourth series also ended in a punt, but Gadsden
City fumbled the ball away during the return. Helped by runs of 18, 11 and 10
yards by Webb, the Bucs made it to the GCHS 4-yard line, where Shaw
took it in for the score. Hunter Schmith’s kicked the first of his six extra points for a 7-0
Hoover lead at 9:14.

The following Titan drive netted -4 yards, and Hoover’s
subsequent series consisted of Shaw’s 46-yard touchdown run with seven minutes
left before halftime.

Gadsden City again failed to move the ball in to Hoover
territory, and the Bucs put together an eight-play, 45-yard possession that
culminated in Webb’s 10-yard TD run at 1:46.

The Titan offense had just over a minute to work with to go
into the break with points on the board, but that scenario ended when Hoover
recovered a fumbled punt at the Gadsden City 14.

Four plays later, Shaw scored his third touchdown of the
first half to put the visitors in a 28-0 hole at intermission.

“We were in a good situation in the fist quarter,”
said Scott. “We were playing on their end of the field and knocked a couple of
punts inside their 5. But we turned the ball over, and you just can’t do that
against a team like Hoover.”

Any hopes of a GCHS comeback were dashed when the hosts
scored touchdowns off their first two possessions of the second half. The first
came at 10:28 of the third quarter on Hutcheson’s 29-yard touchdown pass to
Leonard Wood, and the second at 2:12 on a 6-yard run by Webb.

Ford’s 26-yard run on a fourth down and 1 set up Gadsden City’s
only touchdown, but by then the Hoover fans were warming up for their victory

“One of the marks of a good team is handling the highs and
lows of a game, and our guys did a great job of that this year,” said Scott.
“We played 11 or 12 at the offensive skills positions and we have all but two
of those guys back for next year. We’ve also got a young defense, so we have a
pretty good nucleus coming back. This appearance is going to help us, and we’ll
get back at it and make another run next year.”

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