Huntsville tops Gadsden City 35-32


Gadsden City’s LeGerald Malone stiff arms Huntsville’s Brewer Hicklen during Friday’s Class 6A, Region 7 game at Titan Stadium. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)


The Gadsden City Titans lost a 35-32 heartbreaker to Huntsville in Class 6A, Region 7 high school football action Friday night.

Despite the loss, the Titans still will receive a pretty nice consolation prize: they’re going to the playoffs.

As a result of Pell City defeating Oxford, Gadsden City will be the fourth seed out of the region.

As for Friday night, the Titans appeared to be the more dominant team, but could not shake the pesky Panthers.

A dramatic, last-minute drive that resulted in a Huntsville touchdown with 18 seconds left in the game doomed Gadsden City (5-4, 4-3).

“The kids played hard, but we made a bunch of mistakes,” Gadsden City coach Joe Billingsley said. “They left it all out on the field, and that’s all I can ask of them.”

For the game, the Titans outgained the Panthers 310-225. Up until the last drive, Huntsville had just 149 total yards.

With Gadsden City leading 32-27 with 57 seconds remaining, the Panthers took over on their 20. Two pass plays netted 40 yards to get them into Titan territory. Three consecutive incompletions brought up fourth down. On the final gasp for Huntsville (6-3, 5-2), Brewer Hicklen floated a pass down the left sideline and Corey Wells caught it at the 1-yard line and held on to the ball despite taking a big hit. Two plays later, Hicklen hit Mark Manosky on a play-action fake, and Hicklen ran in the 2-point conversion to lift Huntsville to victory.

“Mistakes (were made) on both sides, we capitalized and they capitalized, they scored last,” Billingsley said. “I have to give (Huntsville) them a lot of credit, they fought to the very end. I would like to congratulate them.”

The first half was a tale of two quarters. Gadsden City dominated the first quarter, while the visitors controlled the second quarter.

The Titans gained 86 yards in the opening period and held the Panthers to just 27 yards. In the second period, Huntsville amassed 103 yards while holding Gadsden City to 52 yards.

LaGerald Malone got the Titans on the board first with a 21-yard run in the first quarter. The point-after kick was wide right to leave the score 6-0 with 9:36 left in the first.

A seven play, 62-yard drive was finished off by Jaiye Miller on a 1-yard plunge on Gadsden City’s next drive. Austin Piazza’s kick made it 13-0 with 5:35 left in the period.

On the next possession, Hicklen was intercepted by the Titans’ Tray Smothers, who returned it 35 yards for the third Gadsden City touchdown of the first quarter to make it 20-0.

The Panthers refused to give up, however. Hicklen ran right up the middle on a read option keeper for a 44-yard touchdown with 6:13 left until halftime to cut it to 20-7.

CJ Moore was intercepted by Joseph Savoy on the very next possession. Savoy returned it 26 yards for the next Panther score. The kick was no good, leaving it 20-13.

Hicklen struck again later in the quarter, this time on a 20-yard scoring run to knot the game at 20 with 1:04 left in the first half.

The second half didn’t quite have the torrid scoring pace of the first half, though it started that way. A 78-yard kickoff return by Deonta Moore to the Titan 21 set the Panthers up for their next score. A running into the kicker penalty on a field goal try four plays later gave Huntsville another chance, and they didn’t waste it. Hicklen’s 10-yard scoring run was his third of the night and it gave the Panthers a 27-20 edge.

The Titans came right back. Gabriel Ford’s 27-yard run finished off an eight play, 80-yard march. The kick was wide right, leaving it 27-26.

A bad punt set up the Titans at the Panthers’ 26 late in the fourth. Five plays later, Malone scampered for an 11-yard score to give Gadsden City its first lead of the game, 32-27, with 3:04 left in the game. Moore’s pass on the 2-point conversion try was incomplete.

Moore finished with 75 yards rushing and 52 yards passing. Ford had 106 yards rushing on 10 carries.

Hicklen completed 7 of 17 throws for 84 yards and rushed eight times for 76 yards for Huntsville.

The Titans finish the regular season at home next week against Hewitt-Trussville.

Editors note: This story has been edited from its original version.