Austin fought off a late surge by Gadsden City to grab a Class 7A, Region 4 win, beating the Titans 17-6 at home.
The Black Bears led by 17 for most of the game until Gadsden City scored on a 71-yard touchdown pass on third down and 19 with 6:23 left in the fourth. The Titans then got the ball back and drove to the Austin 2-yard line before a penalty and a failed field goal attempt put the game away.
“We played well all night, but we got tired,” Austin coach Jeremy Perkins said. “We have to be able to play all four quarters.”
Austin’s inability to finish drives kept Gadsden City around despite the double-digit deficit.
Austin (4-0, 2-0) drove to the Gadsden City 13-yard line in the third quarter, but quarterback Quincy Crittendon threw an interception in the end zone. That would’ve given the Black Bears a 24-point lead.
On the previous drive, Austin had it in Gadsden City territory. Negative plays piled up, and Austin had to punt. Austin’s two fourth-quarter possessions gained only 23 yards total.
“We had some opportunities to put them away and didn’t do so,” Perkins said. “They shut us out in the second half. We had some good drives going that ended with some self-inflicted stuff.”
The drives Austin did finish came in the first half. Those were thanks to a steady running game and some big plays in the passing game. Crittendon had completions of 29, 35 and 44 yards to wide receiver Tre Shackelford.
Running backs Kendall Scales and Jevon Jackson were given a lot of touches, with senior running back Tybo Williams being sidelined with an injury. Both had first-half touchdowns. Jackson’s touchdown was from 29 yards out, while Scales scored from a yard out.
Jackson had been battling the flu all week, and Perkins didn’t know if he would play until late in the week.
Still, Scales and Jackson did what they needed to do to keep the run game afloat. Scales rushed for 93 yards on 16 carries. Jackson added 71 yards.
“I’m glad that Coach Perkins trusts me to run the ball,” Scales said. “I believe I did a good job, but it’s not enough.”
Austin continues region play next week with a road trip to Milton Frank Stadium in Huntsville to face Grissom. The Black Bears beat Grissom 21-13 last year at home.
Perkins believes his team is better than what it showed down the stretch Friday.
“We have to maintain our play at a high level,” Perkins said. “That was an area of concern, but I thought our guys fought well.”