Italy’s Kevin Roldan got the opening kick away despite slipping down in the mud to start the Thursday night clash between the Italy JH Gladiators and the Dawson Bulldogs.
Roldan’s folly was a sign of things to come between these two rivals. With all the rain soaking the playing surfaces in the area this season, it didn’t take long to realize this matchup would be as treacherous as every game has been in 2009.
On yet another mud-slopped football field, Italy’s defense managed to force the Bulldogs to punt on Dawson’s first offensive series. Italy took over at their own 40-yard line to start their first possession.
Italy’s Trevon Robertson escaped around the right side to give the Gladiators a first down at midfield. On the next play, Italy Quarterback Eric Carson ran off right tackle and then cut back to the left, outrunning the Bulldogs 50-yards for a touchdown. The conversion try failed but Italy had the early lead 6-0 as their Cheerleaders and fans were making some noise.
In the second quarter, after Italy’s Robertson punted to Dawson, the Bulldogs slid into Gladiator territory with handoffs up the middle.
Dawson then completed a 28-yard pass inside Italy’s 10-yard line to setup a scoring opportunity for the Bulldogs. A few plays later, the Bulldogs ran up the middle from 2-yards out to tie the game. Hank Seabolt helped to stop Dawson’s 2-point attempt but the game was now tied 6-6.
Italy muffed Dawson’s onside kick following their touchdown and the Bulldogs recovered on Italy’s side of the 50. Fortunately, the Bulldogs ran out of time and the the score remained 6-6 going into halftime.
The second half was plagued with mishandle snaps and fumbles. Italy’s Baily Walton recovered a Bulldog fumble for the Gladiators but Italy’s offense was unable to capitalize on their good fortune.
Italy’s backfield started to find running lanes in the 4th quarter, but Cody Medrano, Carson and Robertson considered themselves lucky if they actually got tackled before they slipped to the ground.
Italy’s defensive front, led by the hard-hitters Darol Mayberry and Walton, got stronger as they game went on. The bookends, Medrano and John Byers, also made several tackles from their defensive end spots.
Carson had several tackles from his safety position and Robertson picked-off a Bulldog pass late in the game. However, the playing conditions were too much to overcome, for both teams, and the game ended in a 6-6 tie.
The Italy JH Gladiators will play their final game in Itasca on Thursday, November 6 at 6:00 p.m. Hopefully, the sun will come out before then.