As the playoff picture comes into focus, the IYAA (Italy Youth Athletic Association) Gladiators ventured to Hubbard, home of the Jaguars, Saturday with the hopes of keeping pace with the teams in their divisions.
With a slight chill in the air and occasional rain drops throughout the day, it was a fun day for football and all three teams, fielded by the IYAA, forged successful campaigns against the Jaguars.
IYAA C-Team vs Hubbard:
In game one, the Italy C-Team (4-2) took an early lead after a 45-yard run by Bryce DeBorde setup a 3-yard plunge by quarterback Preston Rasco. The conversion attempt failed, but the C-Team was in front 6-0 thru halftime.
A sack by DeBorde and hard hits by linebackers Ty Cash and Laveraneus Green kept the Jaguars in check for most of the game. However, Hubbard finally mounted a lengthy drive that started in the third and continued into the fourth quarter. Hubbard eventually scored a touchdown and added the 1-point conversion run to go up 7-6.
With 4:00 remaining, C-Team’s offensive coordinator Aaron Itson found a formula that worked and stuck with it. DeBorde ran right on five consecutive plays and finished three of the first four runs with helmet-to-helmet collisions with Hubbard’s safety, Justin Johnson. Both players glared a respectful glare at each other as they kept lining back up, each knowing what play call was coming next.
On the fifth run, DeBorde launched himself toward two Hubbard defenders, one being Johnson, and all three landed at the pylon. The referee ran in and signaled touchdown as DeBorde laid on his back in the endzone. Raising the football in the air to signal mission accomplished, DeBorde thrust the C-Team Gladiators back into the lead.
The conversion run by Jaiden Barr ended short of the goal line, but after the final buzzer, the game ended with the IYAA C-Team earning their fourth straight victory, 12-7 over the Jaguars. Currently in 3rd Place, a win over Mildred next Saturday would secure a playoff spot for head coach Barry Byers and the C-Team.
IYAA B-Team (3rd & 4th) vs Hubbard:
Making it look easy against Hubard, quarterback Taron Smith helped lead the Minors division leading IYAA B-Team (6-0) to a quick first half lead. Smith scored Italy’s first touchdown with Ryder Itson running in the point after to put Italy up 7-0. Taron’s little brother, Ricky Pendleton, scored Italy’s second touchdown and added the extra point himself to give the B-Team Gladiators a 14-0 advantage in the first quarter.
Itson rumbled in for Italy’s third touchdown to make the score 20-0. The conversion was not successful but Italy’s first half was. The score remained 20-0 into halftime and then late into the fourth quarter. IYAA B-Team’s head coach, Gary Wood, managed to keep the score down but the Jaguars eventually crossed the goal line in the games final seconds. With the 20-6 win, the IYAA B-Team is undefeated at 6-0 and remains all alone at the top of their division.
IYAA A-Team (5th & 6th) vs Hubbard:
With a new found spirit, the IYAA A-Team (2-3), head coached by Ken Norwood, returned to the win column after a heroic effort against the Hubbard Jaguars. Lead on offense by quarterback Tylan Wallace, carried by running backs Chasston Wilson, Keelan Azakytu and Kendrick Norwood, pushed forward by the “Beast Brothers,” Aaron and Austin Pittmon, center Austin Lowe, left guard Adrian Acevedo and left tackle Kenneth Norwood, the A-Team Gladiators won as a team on Saturday in Hubbard.
Italy’s Wilson scored the only touchdown of the first half and Wallace ran in the extra point to give Italy a 7-0 advantage. Andrew Barron recorded his second interception, in the final moments of the first half, to keep Hubbard from reaching the endzone. Italy held their 7-0 lead into the break.
Defensive linemen Aaron Pittmon, Gary Escamilla, Lowe, Jarvis Harris and Kenneth Norwood stood their ground but Hubbard finally scored and converted the point after to tie the game 7-7 in the third quarter. Italy’s offense responded to the challenge but on fourth down and goal at the Hubbard 4-yard line, the Jaguars kept the Gladiators out of endzone and took over on downs.
At first, Hubbard advances the ball from the shadow of their own goal line but a series of bad snaps and sure tackling by Lowe and his Gladiator teammates forced Hubbard to punt. Italy’s Gary Scott sacked the Jaguar punter before he could get the kick away and the IYAA A-Team was back in business at the Hubbard 4-yard line, 4:32 remaining in the game.
Wallace dives in from there to put Italy up 13-7. A false start penalty spots the ball back at the 8-yard line. On the conversion try, a pass from Wallace, intended for Harris, falls incomplete at the goal line.
Wallace kicks off to Hubbard and the Jaguars fight to the 30-yard line. With the game on the line, two tackles by Aaron Pittmon, one by Kenneth Norwood and a sack by Harris return control of the ball back to Wallace and Italy’s offense. Wallace and Norwood use short runs into the middle of the pile to force Hubbard to take their last timeouts. Wallace, takes a knee three consecutive plays to end the contest as the IYAA A-Team Gladiators improve to 3-2 on the season.
IYAA Sports, “The winning tradition starts here.”
Photos by: Michele Cash of TLC Photography
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