Gadsden City loses to No. 8 Florence

Florence’s Jesse Burnsgets is brought down by a group of Gadsden City defenders during the Titans’ season-opener at Titan Stadium on Friday night. (Photo by Eric T. Wright | Gadsden Times)



Progress, progress, progress.

That was theme of Gadsden City coach Matt Scott’s post-game thoughts Friday after his Titans lost to the Class 6A, No. 8 Florence Falcons 28-7.

The first-year Gadsden City (0-1) coach saw some things he liked, namely effort and, yes, progress from last week’s jamboree against Opelika.

“I’m really proud of how our kids played,” said Scott, who came to Gadsden City in the offseason after spending time at Hueytown. “And the kids will tell ya, I’m not going to say that if that’s not the case. Our kids played hard, and I’m really proud of the effort we had. And they didn’t get down.

“If we continue to improve, I feel good about what our possibilities are for the year.”

It just wasn’t meant to be Friday against quarterback Kendrick Doss and the Falcons (1-0). Doss, an Ole Miss commitment, passed for a touchdown and rushed for another while accounting for more than 200 yards of offense.

Still, Gadsden City’s defense managed to keep the Titans in the game while the offense sputtered.

Even when Florence’s Roland Adams returned the second-half kickoff for a 78-yard touchdown to put the Falcons ahead 21-7, the Titans managed to keep decent field position and, at times, looked poised to put another score on the board.

The offense finally got going at the beginning of the fourth behind backup quarterback Ahmad DeRamus and Co. But things came to a screeching halt with one penalty — a penalty that could have been a game changer.

Facing third-and-2 at the Falcon 43, Deveunte Blount broke off a run to the 5, but a holding call erased it all and, despite getting a few more yards, a sack and a penalty, eventually forced a turnover on downs.

Scott pointed to that particular sequence that was crucial to the game because the Titans could have pulled within a touchdown.

“If we dong get that penalty, and there’s all the ‘ifs,’ you can come up with all kinds of those, but I feel like we’re going to score there and it’s going to get real interesting then,” Scott said.

Florence added a touchdown — a 3-yard run by Adams — late in the game after the Titans turned the ball on downs at their own 17.

Things looked good for the Titans on their opening drive. After starting quarterback Jay Copeland found Terrell Malone on a 34-yard screen pass to get Gadsden City in Florence territory, Rodney Bozeman scampered for a 40-yard rushing touchdown to put the Titans ahead.

But from that point, the Titans gained just two first downs the rest of the first half, and Florence finally was able to break through the Gadsden City defense with 4:32 remaining in the half.

Doss capped an 80-yard drive with a 10-yard run to tie the game and, two possessions later and after a Gadsden City interception, Doss found William Barnett for a 57-yard score with 1:18 showing on the clock. The extra point put the Falcons ahead 14-7 at halftime. The last Florence score was set up by a Titan fumble.

The Titans may have considered themselves lucky to only be down one score at the half after their offensive struggles. But the defense, led by big defensive tackle Chris McElderry, was able to keep Florence within striking distance. McElderry sacked Doss once in the first half and disrupted several plays in the backfield throughout the night.

For Gadsden City, Copeland ended the night 4 of 11 for 58 yards and an interception. DeRamus, who played the entire fourth quarter, finished 4 of 10 for 50 yards.

“I thought Jay Copeland played well for us,” Scott said. “That’s what I told Jay when we put Ahmad in. We’re not pulling him because of his play, we were just trying to change the style of play. Ahmad came in and did a good job.”

Dante Rudolph rushed for a team-high 51 yards for the Titans, while Gabriel Ford rushed seven times for 50 yards.

Scott said everything his team wants to accomplish still is possible.

“We pulled out all the stops, did everything in our power to win this game,” Scott said. “At the same time, you can’t approach this game with your kids in a way like it’s a do-or-die game. At the end of the day, it’s not. Our goal right now is, we go to Auburn Game 5, I want to be 3-0 in the region when we get there. That’s what we’re worried about.”

Gadsden City opens Class 6A, Region 7 play against Lee-Huntsville next week, followed by a road trip to Oxford and a home date with Albertville.