By Bryan App/Florence Times-Daily
Florence tried to overcome a late start to the Jamey DuBose era, rallying from a 13-point halftime deficit against visiting Gadsden City last Friday (Aug. 31).
After taking their first lead with 1:57 left in the game, however, the Falcons were hit with heartbreak by the right foot of Austin Piazza.
With 5.5 seconds left in regulation, the Titan senior booted a 19-yard field goal that bounced through off the left upright, the difference in a 30-28 victory.
The kick was set up by a 55-yard pass from C.J. Moore to Jordan Veasey, who took the ball away from Florence cornerback Jordan Petty in single coverage to put the Titans at the Falcons 6-yard line with 55.8 seconds left.
Three plays later, Piazza booted through the game-winner, overcoming earlier misses from 37 and 33 yards and a wide-right PAT attempt.
“We were fortunate to win a game turning it over four times, missing two field goals and dropping a ball in the end zone,” Gadsden City coach Joe Billingsley said. “But sometimes an athletic play makes the difference. Veasey made a good play to take the ball away there at the end. That was the difference.”
Florence allowed 308 of Gadsden City’s 345 yards rushing in the first half — the Titans (1-0) gashing the Falcons with read options and traps — and trailed 27-14 at halftime.
The Falcons pulled within 27-21 on an 80-yard, four-play drive to open the second half. Roland Adams broke tackles on a 60-yard run to the Titans 8 before scoring on an 8-yard run.
Florence quarterback Kendrick Doss took over from there, rushing for 66 of his team-high 115 yards in the second half.
Doss led consecutive long drives inside the Titans 30 and 16 in the late-third, early-fourth quarters, but both ended with turnovers-on-downs. Doss picked up a third-and-6 with a 13-yard run on the following drive before hitting J.J. Green with a 9-yard touchdown pass that put Florence ahead 28-27 with 1:57 remaining.
The Falcons finished plus-four in turnover margin, getting four takeaways in the first half.
Gadsden City jumped out to a 20-7 lead, scoring on a 37-yard pass to B.J. Hammond, a 1-yard Trevor Sandridge run and a 10-yard run by Chris Lawrence before adding a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by LaGerald Malone to end the first half.
Sandridge rushed for a game-high 171 yards on 23 carries. Malone added 64 on three attempts. Moore finished 5-for-10 passing for 105 yards. Lawrence had 64 yards rushing on four attempts.
Gadsden City opens its Class 6A, Region 7 schedule on Friday with a trip to Lee-Huntsville.