Late surge pulls Titans past Oxford

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By Chris McCarthy/Editor

A week after knocking off then fifth-ranked Class 7A Auburn, Gadsden City scored 21 unanswered points over the final 12 minutes to post a 47-28 victory over 6A Oxford on Friday (Aug. 29) at GCHS.

Sophomore running back Damon Williams scored two of the Titans’ three fourth-quarter touchdowns. He finished with seven carries for 117 yards.  

The hosts needed the rally after the Yellow Jackets notched a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to erase a 13-point halftime deficit. The Titans’ initial two possessions of the second half garnered 16 yards and both ended in three-and-outs. 

A bad snap and a 15-yard penalty on the second punt set the visitors up at the GCHS 22, and a personal foul penalty on Gadsden City on a fourth-down and 7 led to Thomas Rudolph’s 9-yard touchdown run at 1:10. With Keaton Borrelli’s PAT, Oxford led for the first time in the game at 28-27.

“I tell our guys to handle the highs and lows of a game, and they’ve done that for two weeks in a row,” said GCHS head coach Matt Scott. “What we have to do is learn how to put people away. I thought the key to the game was when [Oxford] came back and we stepped up and made some plays. Like last week in the same situation, our guys never wavered.”

Indeed they did not. 

Starting from their own 19 on the ensuing series, the Titans moved the ball to the Oxford 48. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Williams reversed field after 10 yards and broke free for a touchdown. Parker Holland’s extra point at 11:44 made it 34-28.

On the following play from scrimmage, Williams took advantage when Oxford put eight men in the box, bursting through the middle of the line and running untouched for a 52-yard score and a 41-28 GCHS advantage at 9:24.

“We think that Damon’s going to be a phenomenal player,” said Scott. “He didn’t have a lot of carries early, so when he got it at the end, he’s running a 4.5 and everyone else is running a 4.8. Damon’s tall and thin, but he’s a physical kid.

“The big thing is that we’ve got three guys (including Gabe Ford and Rodney Bozeman, Jr.) that we can plug in. We think we have a big advantage in that we can play so many people and eventually wear you down. We’re basically two deep at every skill position on offense.”

The Gadsden City defense also shook off its third-quarter struggles, forcing punts on two of the final three Oxford possessions.

The hosts put the game away on their next drive, a 10-play, 53-yard series that was capped off with Dante Rudolph’s 3-yard touchdown run with 1:37 left in the game. 

“We basically went into our short yardage situation on offense [in the fourth quarter],” said Scott. “If you’re going bring people up in the box and to dare us to throw, we’ve got some people that can run by you.” 

Ford led the Titans in rushing with 130 yards and two touchdowns on nine attempts.

Bozeman added 37 yards on nine carries.

Ahmad DeRamus completed 11-of-20 passes for 170 yards, while Darnell Mooney caught three passes for 82 yards. 

The Titans’ first pass play was a big one, a 53-yard DeRamus-to-Denzel Mooney completion on the game’s second play that led to Bozeman’s 8-yard touchdown at 10:20 of the first quarter. 

The Yellow Jackets responded in kind on their first series. Quarterback Ty Webber was 5-for-6 for 60 yards on the possession, which ended with his 22-yard scoring strike to Tre Gamble at 7:31. 

Gadsden City regained the lead later in the period when Ford took it to the house from 54 yards out with 2:47 remaining in the initial frame. 

But Oxford then put together a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that was aided by three GCHS penalties for 30 yards. Gamble’s polished off the series with a 1-yard touchdown at 8:30 of the second quarter.

The hosts responded with a pair of scores before halftime. Ford’s second touchdown of the game, a 33-yard scamper, made it 20-14 in favor of the hosts at 7:04. On the first play of the next GCHS possession, DeRamus and Jaylon Williams hooked up for a 35-yard touchdown with 5:33 left.

Gadsden City had the opportunity to tack on a few more points just before the half, but a 30-yard field goal came up short. 

The Titans opens region play next week with a trip to Sparkman. 

“Right now, we’re winning games on mentality and heart,” said Scott. “No matter what the situation they’re in, our kids feel that they can win. They just refuse to lose, and having that mentality is a big thing in itself. If we can start playing better football along with that mentality, I think we’ll have a heck of club. But we still have huge room for improvement.” 

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