One For The Ages – The 1A Italy Gladiators traveled to take on the 2A Malakoff Tigers who Italy had beaten last season 33-8. Catching the Gladiators off guard, this wasn’t last years Tiger team. Malakoff brought in a complete new coaching staff and a new Athletic Director in Jamie Driskell for their 2009 campaign. The new Tiger program with a new winning attitude gave Italy 2-points more than they could handle on Friday.
Malakoff, who is now 3-1 after their clash with Italy, appeared to be the same old Tigers after trailing the Gladiators 13-0 early in the matchup. Italy’s Jasenio Anderson(11) completed a 31-yard pass to Aaron Thomas(9) who made an incredible grab to get the Gladiators on the board first 7-0 at the 5:59 mark in the 1st quarter.
After both sides jabbed back and forth, Malakoff had gained some momentum after a 1st down completion to Italy’s 31-yard line. On the next play, however, Italy’s Jacob Lopez(52) recovered a Tiger fumble spoiling their fun.
Feeding off the defensive play, Anderson rolled right and eventually found John Isaac(10) in the endzone for another Italy score to start the 2nd quarter. Anderson booted the PAT giving Italy a 13-0 advantage with 11:30 left in the half.
Malakoff blocked the ensuing PAT and advanced it to Italy’s 8-yard before being tackled by Isaac who kept 2-points off the board for Malakoff.
On Malakoff’s next drive, starting at their own 38, Tiger running back Jackson Blacketer(33) carried 34-yards to Italy’s 22. With 8:00 left before halftime, Malakoff had a 4th down just 6 inches away from the Gladiator goal line.
Coach Driskell inserted their 325 pound defensive noseguard Damien Wilson(70) into the Tiger offensive backfield. The Tigers followed the rhino-like Wilson in for a score. The PAT was good and the score was now 13-7 with 7:28 left in the 1st half.
After an Italy punt by Anderson, Malakoff was facing a 4th and 4 at their own 32-yard line when an illegal substitution penalty by the Gladiators gave the Tigers new life. Two plays later Malakoff’s quarterback Bernard Hall(10) threw a strike to Vanoid Dawson(3) for 39-yards down to Italy’s 17-yard line, 2:23 left before half.
On 2nd and goal with 0:24 remaining, the Tigers followed the big rhino in again for the tying score, 13-13. The PAT was true and Italy, who had the 13-0 lead early on, was now trailing at the break 14-13.
Malakoff fumbled the kickoff return to start the 2nd half but recovered it on the Italy 46-yard line. The Tigers capitalized on their good fortune when Hall scored for Malakoff a few plays later. A low kick on the PAT was blocked by Italy’s Ivan Roldan(60) keeping Italy within 7-points of the Tigers 20-13.
At the 8:33 mark of the 3rd, Italy converted a 4th and 12 into a 1st down at Malakoff’s 16-yard line with a 35-yard pass from Anderson to Isaac. Anderson would ultimately run in for the touchdown and convert the PAT as well to tie the game 20-20, 7:29 left in the 3rd.
Malakoff wasted no time earning their next touchdown when Richardson raced 49-yards to put the Tigers up 26-20 at the 7:00 mark.
Italy took over near midfield and a catch by Heath Clemons(2) gave Italy a 1st down at the Malakoff 23. A defensive pass interference call against the Tigers pushed the ball to the enemies 8-yard line. A touchdown catch by Isaac was taken away due to an illegal procedure and the ball was moved back to the 13, 4:30 left in the 3rd.
An incredible run by Anderson, who juked several Tigers out of their stripes, powered the ball to Malakoff’s 6 inch line. Anderson scored from there to tie the game again at 26-26. The PAT failed.
With 1:48 to go before the 4th quarter, Malakoff scores from 38-yards out on an option pitch play. Blacketer caught the 2-point conversion reclaiming the lead for the Tigers 34-26.
Malakoff foils the ensuing Gladiator drive with an interception at the Tiger 37-yard line to end the quarter.
With 8:19 remaining in the game, Italy holds Malakoff on a 4th and goal from the 3-yard line. Italy’s Anderson was left standing in his own endzone knowing he was going to have to move the Gladiators 97-yards to tie the game. And after adjusting his shoulder pads, he did just that.
After picking up 2 first downs to get the ball out to the 37-yard line, Anderson completed a pass to Clemons to set up a 2nd and 4 at the 43, 6:01 left. On the next play, Anderson tucks the ball and runs down the middle of the field to Malakoff’s 25-yard line.
Anderson follows up with a pass to his cousin, senior Desmond Anderson(8), for a 1st and 10 at the Tiger 14-yard line. D. Anderson then makes a catch in the back of the Malakoff endzone to make the score 34-32. Anderson, who just pulled off an impossible drive, pounds in the 2-point conversion to tie the game, one more time, 34-34 with 4:04 remaining.
Malakoff tries to respond but fumbles on their next posession when Italy’s Ethan Simon(50) stripped the ball from Cornelius Richardson(5) allowing Kyle Wilkins(7) to recover for the Gladiators. Italy took over at the Tiger 45-yard line but a dropped pass on 4th and 5 gave the ball back to the tigers with 1:51 left in the game.
Starting at their own 41, the Tigers pitched to Blacketer who rumbled to Italy’s 39-yard line with 1:48 left.
Malakoff went for the knockout but the ball was tipped away by Italy’s Clemons. On 2nd and 10, Marquise Dowell(7) made the grab for the Tigers down to the Italy 1-yard line, forcing Italy head coach Craig Bales to call timeout with 1:27 left.
Coach Driskell inserts, you guessed it, the rhino, and Wilson came through as Malakoff added 8 more points to their score to make it 42-34 with 1:04 to go.
Italy’s Justin Hayes(36) returned the short kick 6-yards to Italy’s 49. The hopes of the Gladiators fell on Anderson’s shoulder pads again. And again, Anderson made it happen. On 4th down and 5 from the Malakoff 46, Anderson scrambled left for the 1st down and was hit out-of-bounds adding 15-yards to the end of the run. The roughness penalty gave Italy a 1st down at the Tiger 19-yard line, 0:20 left.
After a 3-yard run to the 16 and a Gladiator timeout with 0:13 left, Anderson scrambles and then throws a 16-yard pass to Clemons who scored as the final buzzer sounded. Behind 42-40, Italy, by rule, was allowed to go for the 2-point conversion even though time had already expired.
Behind the lead block of Wilkins and with extra help from D. Anderson who was locked on the Malakoff cornerback, Anderson sprinted left and stretched for the pylon to tie the game 42-42 and force overtime.
Italy played defense to start the overtime but they were unable to stop the pitch out to Blacketer who ran for the touchdown on 3rd and 3 from the 18. Coach Driskell again sent in Wilson to lead the way for the 2-point conversion to put Malakoff up 50-42.
Italy’s was a little more methodical on their offensive posession in the overtime as they worked it down to the Tiger 5-yard line. Anderson scored up the middle, on what seemed like busted play, to make the game 50-48.
Unfortunately, Italy’s option pitch play came up short on the 2-point attempt and Malakoff jumped for joy as they had successfully avenged last years defeat to the Gladiators by winning Friday night 50-48 in front of their home crowd.
Fear not Gladiator fans, Italy’s two losses so far were by a total margin of 3-points against 2A opponents. Therefore, Italy’s just a few points away from being undefeated in the pre-season. Playing bigger schools just made Italy that much better as the Gladiators begin their District schedule against Frost next Friday for Italy’s Homecoming.
Jasenio Anderson had 28 carries for 108 yards giving him a 3.86 per carry average. Anderson’s longest run went for 32-yards while rushing for 3 touchdowns. Anderson also completed 18 of 37 passes for 261-yards and 4 touchdowns, the longest completion being 35-yards.
If you include the 2 conversion scores (worth 2-points each) and the 2 PAT kicks (worth 1-point each), Anderson accounted for half of Italy’s scoring with 24-points. And with help from his receivers, Anderson had a passing hand in the other 24-points as well. Now that’s leaving it all out on the field.
Player & Notable Game Stats:
|J. Anderson||28||108||18-31||261||4||3 Run||24|
|D. Anderson||8||77||1 Rec||6|
Italy had 23 first downs to 21 by Malakoff.
Italy had no fumbles while recovering 2-of-3 fumbles by Malakoff.
Malakoff had 2 interceptions.
Italy had 59-yards on 6 kickoff returns.
Italy missed two PATs worth 1-point each.