By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Gadsden City found itself in an all too familiar place last Friday (Oct. 5), trailing host Pell City, 14-0 with 6:11 to go in the first quarter.
The ninth-ranked Titans (4-2, 3-1) had run only one offensive play and had two fumbles in digging themselves an early grave that they failed to climb from on the way to a 21-19 loss in Class 6A, Region 7 action.
Pell City (3-3, 3-1) wasted little time in scoring the first points of the game.
Gadsden City turned the ball over on a fumble at its own 23-yard line attempting to handle a punt. Pell City capitalized on the miscue, as Austin Martin found H.D. Fomby in the right corner of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown. Ryan Curran’s PAT was good to give Pell City a 7-0 lead with 7:49 left in the first quarter.
The Titans self-destructed on their next offensive play.
After a touchback, Gadsden City’s first drive of the game was cut short when the Panthers recovered a fumble at the Gadsden City 28.
The key play of the ensuing series was a 10-yard pass completion by Martin down to the Titians 19-yard line. On fourth down and 1, Burch sprinted 19 yards around left end for a 19-yard touchdown.
The PAT was good to increase the Panthers lead to 14-0 with 6:11 left in the quarter.
The Titans appeared to be in shock trailing 14-0 with only six minutes elapsed in the opening period.
The early deficit served as a wake-up call for Gadsden City, as the Titans put together back-to-back 80-yard touchdown drives to end the first half.
First, quarterback C.J. Moore connected with Jordan Veasy for a 5-yard touchdown to make it 14-7.
Moore then threw to LaGerald Malone from 15 yards out. Ira Burch blocked the Austin Piazza extra point attempt, making the halftime score 14-13.
The score remained 14-13 with 6:32 left in the game.
After forcing a Gadsden City punt, the Panthers took over at their own 27. Damaurian Wills rumbled his way for 20 yards to the Titans 32-yard line. Two plays later Wills broke loose on a 30-yard run to take the ball down to the GCHS 1.
Milton Bothwell capped off the 73-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown. Ryan Curran’s PAT was good to give the Panthers a 21-13 lead with 2:56 left in the game.
Moore proceeded to lead Gadsden City on its final possession. The Titans senior quarterback found LaGerald Malone for a 43-yard gain down to the Pell City 30-yard line. Moore then connected with B.J. Hammond for an eight-yard gain.
Malone rushed for eight yards down to the Panthers 8.
Moore capped of the possession with an eight-yard touchdown to cut the Panthers lead to 21-19 with 45.2 left in the game.
The ensuing two-point conversion pass attempt was batted down, however, giving Pell City the hard-fought win.
Gadsden City missed two field goals and had one extra point blocked. The Titans once again were plagued by penalties, as GCHS was flagged nine times for 90 yards.
“I’m proud of our kids for fighting back and getting us in position to go for a two-point play, but it was a penalty that knocked us back,” said GCHS head coach Joe Billingsley “The kicking game, along with turnovers, got us beat.”
For Gadsden City, Chris Lawrence finished with 112 yards rushing on 11 carries. Trevor Sandridge added 75 yards on 11 carries.
Moore was 10-of-15 in passing for 157 yards and two touchdowns. He added 68 yards rushing on 10 carries and one touchdown on the ground.
The Titans rushed 37 times for 283 yards and had 157 passing for a total output of 440 yards. Gadsden City held Pell City to 154 yards rushing and 60 yards though the air for 214 yards in total offense.
Damaurian Wills led Pell City with 122 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Gadsden City continues region play this Friday with a visit to second-ranked Clay-Chalkville.