Italy Junior High vs Axtell:
The first half between th Italy Junior High Gladiators and the Axtell Longhorns proved to be a defensive struggle. Italy fumbled on their first drive of the game while Axtell was forced to punt on their first possession, giving Italy decent field position.
After a 15-yard run by Trevon Robertson, Italy fumbled away a high snap again and Axtell took over at the Italy 36-yard line with 1:00 left in the first quarter.
The Longhorns ran 10-yards for a 1st down to Italy’s 26-yard line, however, Italy’s defense showed moxy and Axtell had to punt once more.
Italy’s offense was still stuck in the chutes and a Robertson punt gave Axtell one last chance to put points on the board before halftime.
A charging Kevin Roldan, from his noseguard position, steer wrestled a Longhorn runner for a 4-yard loss, pushing Axtell back with a 2nd and 14. Italy held strong on the next two downs and the Longhorns punted the ball back to Italy.
Robertson picked up 19-yards on a 3rd and 29 but Italy punted it away on 4th and 10. Axtell’s luck offensively wasn’t any better and the half ended with the score tied 0-0.
John Byers kicked off for Italy to start the third quarter and a hard hit by Cody Medrano caused the Axtell return man to fumble. Axtell recovered the ball but the play inspired the Junior High defense to force Axtell to punt again, 4:45 left in the third.
Italy’s offense bogged down and Axtell took over. Fortunately, Medrano got into the Longhorn backfield causing the Longhorns to fumble the ball over to Italy at the Axtell 12-yard line.
Another misplayed snap moved Italy back to the 20-yard line. On 4th and 19-yards to go, Robertson took a handoff from John Escamilla and then passed to Chace McGinnis incomplete in the endzone, 0:47 left in the 3rd.
Axtell is unable to mount an attack as the game remains scoreless heading into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth, with 5:56 showing on the board, Italy’s Robertson ran 36-yards for the first points of the game. Ronnie Gatling added the 2-point conversion and Italy’s Junior High was finally in control, 8-0.
Feeling desperate, Axtell went to their passing game to get back in the contest. The first pass attempt was nearly intercepted by Italy’s Kyle Fortenberry. Axtell’s second pass attempt was tipped by linebacker Darol Mayberry and picked by Robertson.
With 4:00 remaining in the game, Robertson ran right for his second touchdown to put Italy up 14-0. Escamilla then ran a quarterback keeper, out of the shotgun formation, and straight between the horns of the Longhorn defense. Escamilla bulled his way in for the 2-point conversion to ultimately give Italy’s Junior High squad a 16-0 victory.
Italy JV vs Axtell:
A Jase Holden interception set up the Italy JV’s first score with quarterback Kyle Jackson doing the honors from 3-yards out. Jackson also added the 2-point conversion and Italy led 8-0 at the 3:40 mark of the first quarter.
On the kickoff, Italy’s Brandon Souder plows the Axtell return man into the muddy field at the Longhorn 42-yard line. Undeterred, Axtell’s offense drives down inside Italy’s 40-yard line.
Italy’s Corrin Frazier brought the Longhorn drive to an end with a recovered fumble at Italy’s 34-yard line, 0:57 left in the first quarter.
Italy moves the ball into Longhorn territory and threatens to score again before halftime. Unfortunately, the pass from Wooldridge to Jackson falls incomplete at the goal line and Axtell’s quarterback takes a knee to end the first half, Italy leads 8-0.
At the 3:55 mark of the third quarter, Italy’s Chase Hamilton scores to increase the Gladiator Avantage 14-0. Jackson adds the conversion giving Italy a 16-0 cushion.
Axtell responds with a 58-yard screen pass down to Italy’s 5-yard line with Devonta Simmons making the touchdown saving tackle.
The effort by Simmons almost paid off when it seemed Axtell fumbled on the next play. Axtell kept possession, however, and scored on the next play to make the score 16-6, 1:47 left in the third.
After jabbing and each other, Axtell would score on another long pass play to make the score 16-12 converting the game from a defensive battle into an old-fashioned Texas shoot-out.
At the 7:00 mark of the fourth quarter, Italy scored again to make the score 24-12 after Jackson punched in the conversion.
Axtell quickly answered with a 48-yard bomb to stay within reach of the Gladiators 24-18. Axtell ran the rarely used swinging gate formation to make the 2-point conversion, keeping close to Italy, 24-20.
After the Axtell kickoff, Jackson matched the Longhorns with a 48-yard touchdown scamper of his own. The conversion was unsuccessful, but Italy increased their lead 30-20 with 5:47 left in the game.
Axtell’s next drive didn’t produce any points. Italy’s next drive did add 6-more points to their score thanks to a sweep to the right by Chase Hamilton, 2:06 left.
With Italy in front 36-20, Axtell connected on yet another deep passing play for a touchdown. The made conversion made the score 36-28 with 1:21 remaining in the game.
On 4th down with 0:09 seconds remaining, Jackson, Italy’s punter, ran the final seconds off the clock to secure the lead for Italy’s JV team and bring an exciting end to a great night of Gladiator football.