1940 Gladiators – A Winning Tradition #4

It has been 70 years since the 1940 Italy Gladiators were undefeated and unscored on. Bill Bryant was a graduate of Italy High School and the Sports Editor for the Italy News Herald. The following is his fourth article of the season.

Gladiators Continue Winning – Take Whitney Easily 27-0

Cookmen Wade Through For Good Start on Title

Fighting like their namesakes of olden times and holding the upper hand throughout, Italy’s galloping Gladiators rolled over the Whitney Wildcats 27 – 0 here at Willis Field last Friday night before some 400 football-crazed fans to chalk up the second mark on the win side of the local pigskin ledger and greatly enhance their chances for an undefeated season.

Cecil Couch, Walter Williams, Leonard Rienzi and Alton Matthews were the mainstays of a hard-charging Warrior forward wall that literally tore such huge holes in the opposing line that a wagon could have rumbled through and still had plenty of room to spare, with Wild Bill Howell, Jimmy Walston, Edward Batte and Rod Williams roaring through these openings time and again for long gains. Ned Hearn and Lester Fuston at ends also deserve lots of credit for their fine defensive work as well as for hauling in the flying leather three times when the Gladiators took to the air on their touchdown drives. Although the locals’ blocking was a little ragged and the tackling wasn’t so awfully sure, as a whole the Italy line displayed brilliant work on both offense and defense.

Flashing the most versatile running and passing attacks seen here in many a day, the Warriors, led in the backfield by Howell, Batte and Williams, ran up a total of 284 yards gained, 244 by running attack and 40 yards via the air-lanes. Whitney’s attack gained 104 yards rushing and none passing. The Gladiators amassed a total of 12 first downs to a mere four for the Wildcats. So the Italy victory could, in fact, be summed up in one sentence – superior passing and running, and a heavier, more experienced, harder-fighting line.

A play-by-play account of the game follows:

First Quarter
Captain Edward Batte of the Gladiators won the coin toss and elected to receive. The Wildcats voted to defend the east goal.

Batte received the kickoff on his 20 and returned it to the Warrior 38. Williams hit into the middle for six. Howell added four at right end, but the Gladiators were off sides and drew a five yard penalty. Batte was stopped cold at left tackle for no gain. Howell punted high to Barnes on the Whitney 10 and he returned two yards to the Wildcat 12-yard line.

Jones circled left end and raced up to the 38. Beal pounded through center for seven. Jones picked up a step at right end, but Harris was spilled for a yard loss at guard. Beal punted to Walston and he returned to the Italy 34.

Howell swept right end for six and Williams bulled through center for five and a first down on his own 45. Howell’s spot pass over the middle to Fuston was good for fourteen yards and another first down. Howell went through guard for six. Batte made it first down on the Whitney 31 through tackle. Williams pushed through center for eight. On an attempted sneaker over guard, Howell fumbled and the Cats recovered on their 28-yard marker.

Walston intercepted Barnes’ pass on the Gladiator 40 and returned it to the Whitney 35. Howell sliced through center for a couple. Batte plunged over tackle for a yard. Howell’s pass was intercepted by Jones on the Wildcat 24 and he was downed in his tracks.

Beal rambled through a large hole at guard for nine. Barnes was held for no gain on a try at the line. Fuston rushed through and smeared Jones for a 10-yard loss on an attempted sweep at the Warrior left end. Riddle replaced Walston in the Gladiator backfield. Beal punted to Howell on the 50 and he returned to the Wildcat 44 as the quarter ended. Score: Italy 0, Whitney 0.

Second Quarter
Walter Williams replaced Fuston at left end for the Gladiators. Batte got a yard on an end sweep, then cut through tackle for seven. Batte ran at right end for six. Williams drove through the middle for nine. Coffman replaced G. New at tackle for Whitney. Howell swung through guard for four. Batte carried off left tackle for three. Williams blasted through guard for five. Riddle failed to gain on a reverse. Howell spun around right end, twisted away from several tacklers and raced over for a touchdown standing up. Batte failed to add the extra point. Score: Italy 6, Whitney 0.

Beal returned Howell’s kickoff fifteen yards to his 35. Beal picked up ten at tackle. On a “keep it” play, Jones went wide around right end, fumbled and Rienzi recovered on the Wildcat 39. Harris replaced Jones in the Whitney backfield and Walston replaced Riddle in the Gladiator ball-carrying department.

Howell barged through right tackle, cut away to the left, wove in between several tacklers and outran the Wildcat safety-man to the goal line for a touchdown. Walston kicked the point after touchdown from placement. Score: Italy 13, Whitney 0.

Howell kicked off end-over-end to Beal on the Cat 15 and he returned to the Whitney 30. Beal smashed through tackle for six. Barnes picked up three at the same spot as the half ended with Italy in the lead, 13-0.

Third Quarter
Howell kicked off to Harris on the 20 and he returned to his 37. Barnes piled through right tackle for three. Andrews of Whitney was injured on the last play but stayed in. Harris rambled around end and raced down to the Italy 40. Batte subbed in at halfback for the Warriors, replacing Walston.

Batte jumped high to snag one of Harris’ tosses on the Gladiator 44. Howell hit into tackle for nine. Williams was piled up at the line on a tackle try. On a reverse, Riddle rammed right guard for five. Howell ran through right tackle for seven, then cracked guard for a couple. Howell shot a bullet pass to Batte squarely over center, good for 4 yards. Howell raced around right end for seven, but the play was called back and the Gladiators set back fifteen for pushing. Hearn made a sensational leaping catch of Howell’s throw on the Wildcat 30. Howell hustled around right end and scooted down to the 12 before he was knocked out of bounds. Howell swung around right end for eight. Coffman replaced Ward at tackle for the Cats and Whitesaddle replaced G. New for Whitney. Williams rumbled through center for a touchdown. Howell converted. Score Italy 20, Whitney 0.

Italy took a time out. Meharg subbed in at center and W. Williams came in at end for the Gladiators. Howell booted off to Barnes on his 14, where Rienzi and Couch racked him up. Beal bucked center for two. Williams rushed through and dropped Harris for a seven yard loss. Barnes was stopped for no gain at the line. Beal punted to Howell on the Wildcat 36 and he returned it two yards. Riddle ran end for twelve, but the Gladiators received a 15 yard penalty for clipping on the play. Howell rounded end for five, but the Warriors were penalized five for backfield in motion. Howell faked a pass, then handed off to Riddle and he spun around end to the Whitney 47 yard line. Howell picked up eight off tackle, then shot an incomplete pass as the quarter ended with the score Italy 20, Whitney 0.

Fourth Quarter
Walston replaced Riddle in the Warrior backfield. Howell’s punt was killed by Walter Williams down on the Whitney 6-yard stripe. Beal slid through tackle for two, then Barnes got two more at the same place. Jones was caught from behind and failed to gain. Beal lifted his kick out of bounds on the Wildcat 36. Howell hit through guard for eight, but Italy was penalized five for backfield in motion on the play. Batte ripped off six through right tackle. Williams took a reverse, carried through a huge hole at left guard and tore down to the Whitney 29. Howell sped around right end, shook a hip at would-be tacklers, then tantalizingly jerked it away and breezed down the side lines and over the goal standing up for a touchdown. Howell’s boot for the extra point was squarely between the uprights. Score: Italy 27, Whitney 0.

Barnes ran Howell’s kick back fifteen yards to his 31. Barnes fumbled but recovered for no gain. Gartman replaced Coffman for Whitney in the line and Latham subbed in for Harris for the Cats in the backfield. Beal slashed off tackle for three, then raced around right end for ten paces. Italy called time out. Barnes plunged center for four and Beal chewed off three at left end. Barnes punt partially blocked and sailed out of bounds on the Whitney 46. Batte fumbled on a tackle smash and Whitney recovered on their 45.

Cecil Couch smothered Beal or a yard loss at right guard. Whitney called time out. A long, looping pass from Barnes to Smith was too hot too handle down on the Gladiator 15. Beal punted out on the Italy 41.

Williams bombarded left guard for three. Riddle picked up three at the same sector. Howell faded to the left and shot a complete spot pass to Hearn for eight. Yarbrough replaced Walston and Grayson replaced R. Williams in the Warrior backfield. A pass, Howell to Riddle, was batted down by Smith. Howell whipped around end for a neat fifteen step gain as the pistol sounded, ending the game. Final score: Italy 27, Whitney 0.