By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Gadsden City stumbled to a 2 1-9 loss to Sparkman in its Class 7A, Region 4 opener on Friday (Sept. 7) at Titan Stadium.
The Titans’ offensive woes from a week ago carried over into the matchup with the Senators, as the Titans only mustered 32 yards of offense and one first down in the first half.
Both teams were held scoreless in the first quarter after the Senators (2-0, 1-0) missed a 27-yard field goal. However, Sparkman quarterback Jacob Medlen found receiver Rondell Cole for a 39-yard touchdown pass to give the Senators a 7-0 with 9:14 remaining in the second quarter.
Gadsden City (0-3, 0-1) was forced to punt on its next possession but quickly forced a Sparkman turnover when Titan defensive back Martaviuos Baker intercepted Medlen and set up the offense inside the 30-yard line.
The Titans earned one first down on the drive but were forced to settle for a field goal. Kicker Carlos Flores connected on a 27-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 with 2:01 left in the half.
Sparkman had an opportunity to add three points before the end of the half thanks to multiple personal foul penalties, but the Titans blocked the kick to keep the deficit at 7-3.
To make Gadsden City’s offensive issues worse in the second half, the Titans turned the ball over three times.
On the Titans’ first drive of the half, quarterback DeMarcus Macon scrambled and evaded several Senators. However, when he was hit, the ball popped out, and Sparkman defender Bradley Butler scooped up the ball and returned it for a 33-yard touchdown. The extra point gave the Senators a 14-3 lead with 8:50 left in the third quarter.
Later in the quarter, the Senators put together a long drive that culminated in a four-yard touchdown run from running back Christopher Sledge-Joiner with 45 seconds remaining in the quarter. Sparkman carried a 21-3 lead into the fourth.
Gadsden City had a promising drive early in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Jalen Robinson fumbled on a 24-yard run. On the next Titan drive, Sparkman defender Jakobe North intercepted Robinson.
Macon re-entered the game at quarterback on the next drive and found receiver Jamarcus Jones on a 48-yard strike for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-9.
The Titans couldn’t generate anything else offensively, however, and the Senators held on for the region win.
Gadsden City coach Bart Sessions attributed his team’s struggles on the offensive side of the ball to Sparkman’s unique defensive scheme.
“They gave us a new defensive look,” Sessions said. “It was one we haven’t seen a bunch of since the spring. You are talking about two or three tenth graders up there (on the offensive line) trying to get those adjustments and take them against 280-pound kids. That’s tough. I thought our kids played really hard. I thought we played until the final whistle”
The Titans have dropped six straight games dating back to last season. Nevertheless, Sessions believes his team is close to turning the corner.
“We got a good group of kids that will come back and work,” he said. “If we can keep this community behind this group of kids, this is a really good football team waiting to happen. It hasn’t happened for us yet. We are making correction after correction and kids are buying in with it. It’s going to happen for us.”
Macon completed eight of his 11 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Jones caught four passes for 53 yards and a score for the Titans. Robinson carried the ball three times for 32 yards, while Jamontez Woods had 33 yards on 19 carries.
Sledge-Joiner led the Senators with 25 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown.
Gadsden City hosts Austin on Friday, Sept. 14 at Titan Stadium for another Region 4 contest. Sparkman takes on Grissom.