ITALY — The Italy Gladiator (3-2) defense posted their second shutout in a row and earn their third straight win after annihilating charter school Red Oak Life, in this their first varsity season, 63-0 at Willis Field in Italy Friday night.
Red Oak Life punted on their first possession and Italy’s quarterback Jasenio Anderson guided the Gladiators downfield where he rushed in for his his first of three touchdowns on the night, giving Anderson a total of 10 so far this season. The 25-yard scoring effort gave Italy a 6-0 lead with 9:32 remaining in the first quarter. Anderson’s point after kick counted to put the Gladiators in front by 7-points.
The Mustangs began to drive on their next possession but an interception and return by Heath Clemons gave Italy a first down at the 44-yard line of ROL at the 8:00 minute mark of the first. An Anderson pass to Clemons on the next play moved the ball to the 22-yard line but a fumble on the following play was recovered by the Mustangs who took over at their own 10.
Red Oak Life’s best chance to score came on their third possession when a 50-yard bomb downfield gave the Mustangs a first down at Italy’s 17-yard line. The drive quickly stalled and a no gain tackle by Italy’s Bobby Wilson forced the Mustangs to attempt a chip shot field goal that sailed wide right.
The Gladiators again advanced the ball deep into Mustangs’ territory thanks to a long run by Kyle Jackson down to the ROL 7-yard line. The Gladiators mishandled a pitch in the backfield and the Mustangs recovered to temporarily delay the inevitable. A false start backed the Mustangs to their own 2-yard line.
On the following play, a pass by ROL was intercepted by Gladiator linebacker Ethan Simon who bowled over the Mustangs’ quarterback to power his way into the endzone, 13-0 Italy with 0:47 left in the opening quarter. The point after kick failed.
The Mustangs began their next drive from their own 29-yard line and a pass interference call against the Gladiators’ defense gave ROL a first down on Italy’s 43-yard line as the game moved into the second quarter of play.
The Gladiators ground the Mustangs offensive attack and ROL goes for it on fourth down but gets nowhere. Italy takes over at the Mustangs 47-yard line with 10:40 left before halftime. Anderson immediately fires a pass into the endzone where De’Andre Sephus makes the grab but lands out-of-bounds.
Undeterred, Anderson throws to Clemons in the flat who exploded in a straight line down the field for a 47-yard touchdown to make the game count 19-0 in favor of Italy. Italy’s leading receiver coming into the game with 9 receptions for 234-yards, Clemons also scored on a 93-yard pass play against Hubbard last week. Following the burst by Clemons, Anderson checked left and then rolled right to find receiver Jase Holden in Italy’s, gold and white, checkerboard painted endzone for the 2-point conversion, 21-0 Italy with 10:17 remaining.
On their next offensive try, the Mustangs picked up one first down to their own 41 but eventually punted to Clemons who almost returned the kick back to the original line of scrimmage. The Gladiators started at the ROL 45-yard line and a quarterback keeper by Anderson covered 40-yards to the 5 of the Mustangs. Italy’s Kyle Jackson carried the ball across the goal line on the next play, and after Anderson’s kick cleared the uprights, the Gladiators were in complete control 28-0, 5:52 showing on the clock.
The Mustangs went went to the air looking for a big play and Italy’s Corrin Frazier found it with a tip-drill interception. Frazier advanced his second pick of the season to the ROL 20-yard line and a pass from Anderson to Devonta Simmons quickly made the score 34-0. Anderson’s point after kick skied over the poles, 35-0 Italy.
The Mustangs start again and complete a pass but a hard hit by the Gladiators secondary dislodges the football and Italy’s Kyle Jackson scoops it and tries to head toward the endzone but gets dragged down near midfield. Two plays later, Italy’s Jalarnce Jamal Lewis escapes to the ROL 41-yard line but a clipping penalty erased the effort. With 2:47 to go, on second down from their own 45, Italy’s Anderson keeps left and receives downfield blocks from Tavarus Griffin and Clemons who lead Anderson down the Mustangs’ sideline for a 55-yard touchdown scamper. Anderson’s point after kick was true to give the Gladiators a 42-0 advantage at the break.
Anderson ran in for his third touchdown early in the third quarter and booted in the extra point try to make the score 49-0. A jarring hit by Clemons on the ensuing kickoff caused a Mustangs’ fumble that was recovered by Lewis. Kyle Wilkins rumbled in from 30-yards out to put the Gladiators up 55-0 with Anderson’s kick adding one more point, 56-0 Italy.
With backup quarterback Justin Buchanan injured while playing defense, Clemons took over the quarterbacking duties for the Gladiators the rest of the way. Anderson started his bye week early preserving himself for the upcoming Blooming Grove game to be played Friday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Blooming Grove.
However, Anderson did make two more appearances in the game including a 37-yard punt that rolled out at the 4-yard line of the Mustangs and to add one last P.A.T. after a 28-yard touchdown run by Lewis late in the fourth. The Gladiators win their third game in a row 63-0 over Red Oak Life and have outscored their last three opponents 138-7.
Gladiator lineman coach Stephen Coleman had this to say regarding Italy’s offensive line, “They just keep getting better. Larry Mayberry, Ethan Simon, Jacob Lopez, Omar Estrada, Bobby Wilson and Brandon Souder have been getting the job done, particularly the last three weeks. We had a question mark at one of the tackle spots coming into the season but Souder has provided the answer. I’m extremely pleased with his efforts.”
Anderson, who averages 12.5-points per game with 50 total points to his credit coming in, accounted for 39 of Italy’s 63-points against ROL. Anderson doubled his point average with 25-points, including 7-of-8 P.A.T. kicks, and passed for 14 more before exiting the match in the third quarter.
“It was another good effort by our players and we got to experience some new game situations that we haven’t encountered thus far. There is still work to be done, of course. We had four turnovers that we’ll need to address but I’m proud of our defense for earning their second shutout in a row. It’s been awhile since that’s happened around here,” stated Italy’s head coach Craig Bales after the contest.