The Mart Panthers head coached by Rusty Nail were anything but in Italy Friday night. State Champions in 2006 and runner-ups in 2008, and currently ranked 2nd in 1A-D1 behind 2009 champ Goldthwaite by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, Mart’s no huddle offense methodically controlled the game. The panthers scored on their opening drive when Jakeem Hoffman ran left from 5-yards out to put the Panthers up 6-0. The Panthers ran in the conversion to go ahead 8-0 with 6:47 still to go in the opening quarter.
Italy’s first possession stalled and Mart made the Gladiators pay when D’Shun Williams turned a short pass route into a 62-yard cut-back gallop to stretch the Panther advantage to 14-0, 5:27 left. A mishandled snap foiled the conversion attempt. Italy’s De’Andre Sephus advanced the ensuing kickoff to the 47-yard line of Mart. Italy’s offense was plagued by penalties and dropped passes forcing Jasenio Anderson to punt. Anderson booted a 55-yarder to pen the Panthers at their own 10.
Mart remained stranded near their own endzone thanks to a hard tackle by Ethan Saxon on first down and a sack by Ethan Simon on Mart quarterback Holden Strunck to force a fourth down punt by the Panthers.
Italy’s offense remained grounded and Anderson punted again. The first quarter ended with Mart driving at Italy’s 36-yard line. At the 9:42 mark of the second quarter, Mart completed a 10-yard pass to take a 20-0 lead. Strunck ran in for the bonus points to give Mart a 22-0 cushion.
An Anderson pass to Kyle Jackson gave Italy a first down at the 47 on their next offensive try. Runs by Jalarnce Jamal lewis of 12 and 21-yards setup a 2-yard touchdown dive by Anderson to put the Gladiators on the board 22-6.
Mart’s Hoffman added another touchdown with 6:23 left in the half followed by another run conversion by Strunck, 30-6 Panthers.
Mart passed for another score to lead 36-6 late in the second quarter but Italy’s Justin Buchanan stuffed the conversion attempt in the Panther backfield. A roughing the passer penalty against Mart setup a touchdown pass from Anderson to Jase Holden near the back of the endzone with :14 left in the half. The conversion attempt misfired and the half ended with Mart well in front 36-12.
Neither side budged in the third but Mart added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 48-12 lead. Showing no quit, Italy did manage one last touchdown in the closing seconds but the Mart Panthers, who annihilated Chilton last week 50-0, eventually celebrated their second straight win of the season, 48-18 over the Gladiators who are now 0-2.
Italy’s next game will be away on Friday, September 10 starting at 7:30 p.m. in Palmer against the Bulldogs.