The Italy Gladiators (4-2 overall) battled the Hubbard Jaguars (1-6 overall) Friday night at Willis Field in Italy. Early in the first quarter, the Gladiators gave the Jaguars a taste of what the rest of the game had in store for the spotted cats.
After the Jaguars went 3 and out, Italy’s Jasenio Anderson(11) completed a short slant pass to John Isaac(10) who turned the 2nd down catch into a 64-yard touchdown.
J. Anderson kicked the PAT and the score showed Italy in front 7-0 at the 8:59 mark of the first.
Italy’s defense led by an enthusiastic senior, Desmond Anderson(8), forced Hubbard to punt again with 6:44 to go in the first.
Italy’s next drive included an 8-yard catch by D. Anderson and a 12-yard run by J. Anderson setting the Gladiators up with a 1st and 10 on Hubbard’s 18-yard line. On 2nd and 10, J. Anderson pitched left to Justin Hayes(36) who ran untouched until he reached the pylon. The referee signalled touchdown making the score 13-0. The PAT missed to the right.
The Jaguars used up the remianing 2:41 of the first only to punt again, giving Italy the ball on their own 43-yard line to start the second quarter.
Italy worked their way to Hubbard’s 25-yard line where J. Anderson dropped back to pass and found senior receiver John Isaac(10) for Italy’s third touchdown. The PAT missed again, but with 10:00 left in the half, Italy had plenty of time to inflict more damage to the Jaguars.
Although Hubbard fielded some healthy defensive lineman, Italy’s offensive line consisting of Zach Hernandez(63), Ivan Roldan(60), Jonathan Nash(65), Ethan Simon(50), Larry Mayberry(77) and tight end Ryan Ashcraft(48) were giving J. Anderson all the time he needed to locate receivers.
Realizing they needed to put points on the board if they were to make a game of it, Hubbard crossed the goal line at the 6:53 mark of the second. The conversion was no good but at least the Jaguars could purr for a few moments.
The visiting fans didn’t get a chance to celebrate long, because three plays and 9-seconds later, Italy’s Isaac hauled in a 36-yard pass play from J. Anderson. The catch made the score 25-6 with 5:54 left on the clock.
The Gladiators were able to add one more touchdown and then hold the Jaguars out of the endzone to brandish a 31-6 halftime lead.
The hometown heroes added two more touchdowns in the third quarter, highlighted by a D. Anderson with a 25-yard catch as he fell out of the back of the endzone.
The referees denied J. Anderson the 2-point conversion but Italy led 45-6 going into the final period.
The Italy coaching staff used the fourth period to get some experience for their non-starters. The action went back-and-forth until the Jaguars used a delayed pitch to get more points on the right side of the board.
Which was a good thing as the scoreboard was starting to lean a bit to the left as the Gladiators were threatening to break the 50-point barrier.
The risky but successful pitch play by the Jaguars made the score 45-12 with 3:32 left in regulation.
Italy finally sent the Jaguars back to the zoo when J. Anderson pitched to Hayes again for a 47-yard touchdown run to make the score 51-12.
With 2:41 still left in the game, the Jaguars tried to score one last time. A stalled play turned into a big gain as the Hubbard runner reversed his field and headed toward Italy’s field house.
Flying in to give the scorekeeper, Greg Richards, the rest of the night off was Junior Deandre Sephus(20) who made the touchdown saving tackle and kept the final score 51-12.
Italy’s next district game will be an away game against Wortham on October 23. Wortham lost to Dawson on October 2, 27-6. However, the Bulldogs are now on a two-game winning streak after an 18-6 win over Itasca and a 38-20 win over Frost.
Next weeks game will give the Gladiators a better idea of how they compare to their district competition plus an Italy win would make them 4-0 in district play.
Needless to say, fan support will be critical against the Bulldogs Friday, so make the trip to Wortham and cheer on the Gladiators!