Gadsden City upsets No. 2 Clay-Chalkville 24-21
Fri. October 11, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. | By J.J. Hicks Staff Writer
Gadsden City’s Terrell Malone finds a hole in the Clay-Chalkville defense at Titan Stadium on Friday night. (Photo by Eric T. Wright | Gadsden Times | File)
Gadsden City coach Matt Scott demanded a more physical effort from his players this week.
Boy, did he ever get it.
The Titans rallied from a 21-10 halftime deficit to stun Class 6A, No. 2 Clay-Chalkville 24-21 in a Region 7 game Friday that was The Gadsden Times' Game of the Week.
The win helped redeem a 35-7 homecoming loss to Pell City last week and put the Titans right back in the hunt for a playoff spot.
“Our kids expected to win this game,” Scott said.
“We’ve played some top teams to the wire this year, and I’m really proud of these guys.
“It says something about these kids’ character to bounce back from that (loss).”
Gadsden City (3-4, 3-2) held the Cougars, who came into the game averaging 48 points per game, scoreless in the second half and forced two critical turnovers that led to the winning points.
After Clay (6-1, 4-1) gained 217 yards in the first half, the Titans held it to just 137 yards in the final two quarters. Part of the reason was a shift in offensively from the spread to a big formation with multiple tight ends and fullbacks. That allowed Gadsden City to control the clock, run the the ball more effectively and hold the rock for much of the second half.
“Clay has one of the best offenses in the state,” Scott said. “We played a totally different style of offense tonight than we’ve been trying to do and I think it gave them trouble. We knew if we went three-and-out a lot and our defense was out there all night, we couldn’t beat them.”
After a Titan punt to open the third quarter, Clay took over on its own 20. On the sixth play of the drive, Chris McElderry stripped the ball from the Cougars’ Sidney Battle and the Titans covered it on the Clay 42. A nine play, 58-yard drive culminated with a 7-yard touchdown run by Dante Rudolph on fourth-and-1 to cut the Gadsden City deficit to 21-17 with 2:15 to go in the third. Rudolph finished with 63 yards on 11 totes.
The next Clay possession saw the Titans’ defense make another big play. Quarterback Darryien Wilson, in for injured starter Hayden Moore, fumbled and Blair Edwards covered it for Gadsden City on its own 39 with 41 seconds remaining in the third.
Once again, the Titans pounded out a methodical, time-consuming march. An 11 play, 61-yard drive finished when Rudolph scored on a 15-yard scamper to give Gadsden City a 24-21 lead, its first of the game, with 7:13 to go.
The Cougars had one more shot, driving to the Titans’ 11 with 1:56 left, but a bad snap doomed the 26-yard field goal try by Clay’s Patrick Millican. The kick was a wobbler that came up short of the uprights. From there, Gadsden City ran out the clock and began the celebration.
“It’s been a tough, tough year, and I’m really excited right now,” Scott said. “Championship teams have to be able to handle the ups and downs of the game.”
Clay scored on its first possession of the game on a Moore 18-yard touchdown pass to Brian Clark to go up 7-0 with 10:11 left in the first.
Gadsden City responded with a six play, 64-yard drive that saw Gabe Ford score on a 2-yard plunge to tie it at 7 with 8:08 to go in the first.
Moore left with a leg injury on the first play of the second quarter, but Wilson took over and led a 10 play, 65-yard drive. Battle’s 3-yard touchdown extended the lead to 14-7 midway through the quarter.
David Webb kicked a 32-yard field goal for the Titans to cut it to 14-10 late in the half, but Wilson conducted an eight play, 64-yard drive to give Clay an 11-point halftime edge. Wilson found Clark on a 10-yard scoring pass with just 9 seconds to go until halftime.
Though he did not account for a touchdown, sophomore Ahmad DeRamus started the game and went the distance at quarterback for Gadsden City in an efficient effort. He completed 6 of 10 throws for 74 yards and rushed 14 times for 95 yards. He also did not turn the ball over.
“Ahmad has done a great job since I’ve been here,” Scott said. “We’ve used him in certain situations as a change-up (before tonight). The thing I like about him is that he’s a competitor. He’s going to battle and make plays. He did a great job for us.”
For Gadsden City, Rodney Bozeman rushed 10 times for 72 yards. The team finished 349 yards, with 275 coming via the rushing attack.
Wilson completed all 10 of his pass attempts for 167 yards. Clark caught seven throws for 116 yards.
The Titans visit Grissom for a region game Thursday.