Wildcats fall behind early in loss vs. Titans

Fort Payne kicker Alex McPherson (4) celebrates with holder Dax Varnadore after making a 40-yard field goal during the first half against Gadsden City at Fort Payne High School's Wildcat Stadium on Friday night.

Alex Akins scored on a 2-yard run late in the fourth quarter and Alex McPherson kicked a 40-yard field goal in the opening quarter in Fort Payne’s 34-10 loss to the Class 7A Gadsden City Titans at Wildcat Stadium on Friday night.

Fort Payne dropped to 0-2, while Gadsden City improved to 2-0.

Lightning in the area forced a 30-minute weather delay at the end of the third quarter, where the Titans led 20-3.

Gadsden City’s Chris Miller rushed for four touchdowns. He punched in a 13-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter to make it 27-3, before tacking on a 38-yard scoring scamper with 3:56 left in regulation.

Akins scored Fort Payne’s lone touchdown with 1:05 left in regulation.

Gabriel Brito kicked a 33-yard field goal with 58 seconds remaining in the first half to lift the Titans to the 20-3 advantage at intermission.

Starting their drive on their own 18-yard line, the Wildcats used an Akins 4-yard run before a Titans penalty set them up on their 38 with 5 seconds left.

Jake Barnes found Marcus Ledford on a cutting run to the left sideline, where he ran out of bounds to stop the clock. But the clock expired before he could reach the sideline and the teams went off to their respective locker rooms.

Fort Payne fumbled the ball away on its opening drive, giving the visitors a short field.

Miller capped the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run up the middle in a third-and-12 situation for a 7-0 lead with 10:09 left in the period.

Trouble struck again for the Wildcats when Nehemiah Washington picked off a Barnes pass on Fort Payne’s side of the field and returned it to the 2-yard line.

Miller cashed in a second touchdown run after taking the handoff from the first snap with 8:22 remaining in the opening quarter, making it 14-0.

Fort Payne running back Kaden Dubose suffered a leg injury on the Wildcats’ second series and did not return to the game. He limped off the field under his own power and remained on the sideline with a crutch for the rest of the night.

Akins, Skyler Cody and Darrell Prater had reps at running back in Dubose’s absence.

McPherson drilled a 40-yard field goal with 3:31 to play in the first quarter to cut the deficit to 14-3.

Gadsden City punted for the first time at the 1:26 mark of the first quarter.

Fort Payne’s ensuing drive that spanned into the second quarter stalled at the Titans’ 29-yard line.

The series was highlighted by a 16-yard run by Cody.

The series ended with a 46-yard field goal attempt that pushed left of the uprights with 9:07 remaining in the half.

Brito booted a field goal from 33 yards at the 3:40 mark to push the Titans into a 17-3 lead.

Out of the half, the Titans used a long kick return to reach Fort Payne’s red zone.

But the Wildcats’ defense flexed and limited Gadsden City to another 33-yard field goal attempt, which Brito missed wide to the right with 10:35 to play in the third.

Gadsden City’s Rodney Johnson intercepted a Barnes pass and set up his team on Fort Payne’s 39.

But the Wildcats responded again with a strong defensive effort and forced a punt.

The Wildcats look to regroup as they open 6A, Region 7 play next Friday, hosting Arab at 7 p.m.

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