In the first game, the Italy Junior High Gladiators and the Buffalo JH Bison went nose-to-nose at Willis Field in Italy on Thursday. After the opening kickoff it looked as though it might be Italy’s day after a Ryan Connor pass to Colton Petrey covered 26-yards to the Bison 44-yard line.
John Escamilla carried up the middle for 6-yards to the thirty-eight of Buffalo. On second down and four, a Connor pass to Petrey goes incomplete just over Petrey’s head and out-of-bounds. Connor keeps on the following play, and charges into the middle of the Bison’s defensive line….first down, Italy!
At the Bison’s thirty-two, the JH Gladiators’ next two pass attempts fall incomplete and a run by Cody Boyd is met in the backfield for a loss, Buffalo takes over on downs at their own 33-yard line.
The Bison mishandle the ball on their first offensive play but recover it quickly and run for the first down. However, a holding penalty on their next carry leaves the Bison with second and fifteen from Buffalo’s 38-yard line, only 0:51 remain in the opening quarter. Buffalo makes up for the loss with a pass completion to the 44-yard line of Italy despite tight coverage by an Italy defender. First down Bison at Italy’s 36-yard line. The Bison pick up another yard on a running play before the first quarter ends.
The Bison run left to the 33-yard line setting up a touchdown toss on the next play from scrimmage. The pass sailed over the outstretched hand of a JH Gladiator defender and into the waiting arms of a Bison receiver for the 6-0 lead with 6:19 still to play in the second quarter. Caden Petrey forces the Bison runner to turn inside where John Byers makes the tackle to keep Buffalo from inflicting anymore damage on the conversion.
After the kickoff, John Escamilla runs into the middle for 2-yards. Connor keeps for a first down at Italy’s 39-yard line with 5:16 to go in the half. Italy fumbles on the next play and the Bison take over at the 37-yard line. After a holding penalty on Buffalo, the Bison complete a pass to the thirty-six of Italy. Needing ten for the first, Buffalo runs right and gets the needed yards at Italy’s 17-yard line. Italy’s JaRay Anderson and Boyd combine for a tackle in the Bison backfield, second and thirteen for Buffalo.
The Bison run left and Byers makes the tackle at the 11-yard line. Moments later, C. Petrey makes a leg tackle to force a fourth and seven for Buffalo’s offense but the Bison pitch left and stride in untouched for their second score. Byers helps stop the conversion and the score is now 12-0 for the Bison.
After the kickoff, Italy starts on their side of midfield. Escamilla runs for three but a false start charged to Italy on the next play gives them second and twelve at the their own 44-yard line with 0:50 left in the first half.
Connor throws incomplete to Petrey. Anderson breaks 21-yards to the 35-yard line of Buffalo. Anderson gets the call again and bruises his way to the twenty-eight, 0:11 left. Connor completes to Levi Stark for a first down. Unfortunately, a holding erases the effort and with 0:04 seconds to go, Connor launches a pass downfield to Petrey who makes the grab out-of-bounds near the Bison 20-yard line to end the half.
Buffalo receives the ball to start the second half and begin at their 40-yard line. Italy’s Kyle Fortenberry and Kelton Bales combine for a tackle when the Bison try the middle. Buffalo’s next running play play covers 60-yards for a touchdown with 6:13 still to play in the third, 18-0 Bison. Petrey slings down the Bison runner to foil the conversion attempt.
Anderson returns the ensuing kickoff to Italy’s 40-yard line. A short run, an incomplete pass and a mishandled snap results in an Italy punt by Connor. Buffalo runs the kick all the way in for a touchdown but a holding call spots the ball back at Italy’s 43-yard line. A holding penalty by the Bison, a tackle by Lance Peck and an open field tackle by Byers causes Buffalo to turn the ball over on downs.
Italy starts from their 49-yard line with 1:33 remaining in the third quarter. Italy’s first play is a pass from Connor to Petrey who breaks tackles all the way to the endzone for a JH Gladiator touchdown, 18-6 Bison. Escamilla’s conversion run was stopped by a group of angry Bison defenders and the score remains 18-6.
Italy kicksoff and Boyd and Ty Windham combine for the stop at the Bison 30-yard line. A false start by the Lions is followed by a combo tackle by Bales and Boyd to force Buffalo to overcome second down and 14-yards to go, 0:38 left in the third. Italy’s Tyler Vencill ends the quarter with by tackling a Bison runner for a 1-yard loss.
The Bison’s fumble on their next offensive play and Vencill tries to recover the ball but Buffalo maintains control. A Buffalo punt only makes it to the 36-yard line on their side of the field with 6:13 left in the game. Connor is sacked in the Italy backfield for a 5-yard loss. The Bison defense follows up the sack with an interception at the 20-yard line, 5:18 remains.
A tackle by Connor causes a fumble but Buffalo recovers at their 12-yard line. Buffalo runs right and Petrey makes the tackle at the twenty. On third down and ten, Buffalo runs for the first but a clipping penalty spots the ball to the Bison 23-yard line, third and seven.
Buffalo runs for the first down at the 30-yard line with 2:26 left in the game. Buffalo runs around the right side to the 48-yard line for an 18-yard gain. A false start backs Buffalo to the forty-three. Buffalo runs thru the middle and Italy’s Byers drags down the runner at the 48-yard line.
And then that is when ‘the play’ happened! Penetration by Italy’s defensive linemen, Vencill and Bales, causes the Bison runner to bump into his own blockers. The ball spits out, Byers snags the prize from the air and hoofs out of the pack with a couple of Bison players chasing behind him. Byers rumbled 49-yards when he was hit at the one and appeared to have made it across the goal line, knocking down the pylon. Even the press box was shouting, “Touchdown!” Down on the field, however, the play was ruled a fumble into the endzone for a touchback.
Despite the controversial call, it was still an exciting play for Gladiator fans, and a fun memory for Byers.
Buffalo’s offense takes over at the 20-yard line and takes a knee to end the game. The Bison hold back a fourth quarter surge by the JH Gladiators to win 18-6.
Italy JV vs. Buffalo:
The first score of the game came at the 0:11 mark of the first quarter when a Bison runner broke away for a 54-yard touchdown effort. The conversion attempt failed.
Italy’s Eric Carson returned the ensuing kickoff 36-yards to the 44-yard line of Buffalo. After struggling to gain ground, initially, a short completion from Tony Wooldridge to Carson also earns a roughness penalty against the Bison. The infraction gives Italy a first down on Buffalo’s 30-yard line. Wooldridge returns to the JV Galdiators’ lineup after being sidelined with a shoulder injury last week.
After a holding call on the JV Gladiators and needing to convert a third and seventeen, Wooldridge passes to Carson along the Italy sideline but a Bison defender jumps the route and races 32-yards for another Buffalo touchdown, 12-0 Buffalo leads with 5:29 left to play in the first half. The conversion failed.
Italy’s next offensive drive stalls and the JV Gladiators punt from their own 28-yard line with 3:18 remaining before the break. Italy’s Justin Wood recovers a fumble in the Bison backfield but the JV Gladiators’ offense fumbles it right back on the next play. Buffalo starts again from their 35-yard line with 2:43 showing on the scoreboard.
A facemask penalty advances Buffalo to the 45 of Italy. Buffalo runs for three more yards before carrying the ball to the 9-yard line on their next play. Deiondre Cockran and Chase Hamilton combine for the stop but Buffalo has plenty of time left on the clock to take a shot at increasing their lead. Buffalo runs around the right end and dives in for third touchdown of the first half, 18-0. The conversion run to the left scores two more and Buffalo is in control 20-0 with 0:44 left.
After the kickoff, Italy fumbles it over to the Bison on their first offensive play. Trying to take advantage in the few seconds left, Buffalo passes toward the endzone but the pass is picked by Carson to spoil Buffalo’s hopes. The first half ends with the Bison on top 20-0.
Italy receives the second half kickoff and works their way toward Buffalo’s goal line. Wood carries it across from 5-yards out to get the Gladiators on the board at the 5:02 mark of the third quarter. The conversion try falters and the Bison still have the reigns and lead 20-6.
Buffalo scores again with 9:55 to go in the game. Italy’s Seabolt causes a Bison fumble on the conversion but the damage is done, 26-6 Buffalo leads.
Carson takes over at quarterback for the JV Gladiators. Italy has a first down at midfield when three straight running plays by Hamilton gives Italy a first down at the Bison 35-yard line. Carson completes a 14-yard pass to Wooldridge for a first down at the Bison 21-yard line, 4:31 left in the game.
Carson finds Paul Harris near the Bison endzone but the catch was made out-of -bounds. On third and seven, Carson passes to Harris across the middle of the field. Harris shakes a couple of tacklers and high steps in for a touchdown. Carson rolls left and shows run but spots Cockran in the endzone and lobs the ball his way. The conversion attempt fails but Gladiator fans appreciate the effort as the two head back to the sideline. Buffalo continues to lead 26-12, with 2:27 remaining.
JV Gladiator kicker Kevin Roldan fakes the onside kick and then kicks the onside kick. The Bison’s mishandle for a moment but eventually recover. With 1:20 left in the game, Buffalo adds one last touchdown with a 48-yard touchdown run. The conversion counts and the Bison lead 32-12.
Wood receives the kickoff and breaks down the Buffalo sideline to the 16-yard line with 0:31 still to play. Buffalo holds and the game ends in favor of the Bison.