Jaguars relinquish 17-point halftime lead in loss at Gadsden City

Published 12:25 am Saturday, September 18, 2021

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By STEPHEN DAWKINS | Special to the Reporter

GADSDEN — Gadsden City scored a touchdown with 2:25 remaining in the game on Friday, Sept. 17, to complete a comeback after Spain Park staked out a 17-0 first-quarter lead.

The Jaguars (1-4 overall, 0-3 in Class 7A, Region 3 play) fell 29-26 to drop their fourth consecutive game, and this one in heartbreaking fashion.

Evan Smallwood started the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Pierson Cole.

Braxton Sumpter’s point-after made it 7-0 with 5:54 on the clock in the first quarter.

Sumpter then added a 40-yard field goal, and a punt block was recovered and returned by Kelby Roberson made it 17-0 with less than a minute to go in the first quarter.

The Titans then began their climb out of the hole.

First it was CJ Miller with a 47-yard touchdown run with 8:50 left in the third quarter.

Then Luke Waldrop passed to Khamari Smith for 51 yards and a touchdown minutes later.

Miller gave Gadsden City its first lead of the game with a 10-yard touchdown run, still in the third quarter.

Sumpter was good for his second field goal of the game shortly into the fourth quarter, this one from 30 yards out to pull the Jags to within one point of the lead, 21-20.

Smallwood ran it in from 10 yards out to give SPHS the lead once again, 26-21, but the two-point conversion attempt was no good.

That conversion play would prove to be crucial.

Gadsden City scored on a 5-yard Miller run with 2:25 left to play, and instead of needing an extra point to tie the game, the hosts already had the lead, 27-26.

The Titans were good on their two-point conversion, with a pass from Luke Waldrop to Mason Johnson.

Gadsden City (3-2, 1-2) outgained SPHS, 327 yards to 268, though the visitors ran 16 more plays, 57-41.

The most significant difference was on the ground, where Gadsden City rushed for more than twice as many yards per carry (8.6 to 4.1).

Smallwood completed nine passes in 18 attempts for 108 yards.

His favorite targets were Cole (four catches for 73 yards) and Zamir Farris (three for 17).

Farris rushed 11 times for 63 yards, and Smallwood rushed 11 times for 39 yards.

Alex Smith led Spain Park with four tackles, and Tucker Steed had 3.5 tackles.

The Jaguars have two weeks to stew on the loss as they don’t play again until they host Oak Mountain on Oct. 1.