JV Gladiators shutout by Chilton

Image: Protecting the ball — Italy Gladiators fight back the Chilton Pirates to protect the ball.

Protecting the ball — Italy Gladiators fight back the Chilton Pirates to protect the ball. (Anne Sutherland)

ITALY – Thursday night the JV Gladiators played host to Chilton in a game that was dominated by the Pirate’s defense. The Gladiator offense was held at bay making only two trips into Chilton territory the entire contest. The Pirates blanked Italy 22-0, handing the Gladiators their second straight loss. It was a slow and sluggish start for both teams with bad snaps, mishandled balls, turnovers, and several penalties.

The Italy offense took the opening possession, but were quickly pushed backwards by the Chilton defense. The Gladiators found themselves facing a third-and-20 with their backs up against their own end zone. Kyle Jackson teamed up with Devonta Simmons for a 25-yard strike to give Italy the momentum and a little breathing room. Three plays later the momentum shifted when Trey Thomas picked off Jackson just outside the Gladiator’s red zone. The Pirates moved down inside the ten, but Italy dodged a bullet when Robert Sparks pounced on a Chilton fumble. The Gladiators started deep in their own territory looking to convert off the turnover, but were unsuccessful going three-and-out. The Pirates again started with good field position as the entire first half was played in Italy territory. One play later Isaac Medrano hammered Thomas in the backfield as a scoreless first quarter came to end.

Chilton needed only two plays to get on track in the second quarter. Cedrick Carter carried the pigskin 36 yards for the score. Thomas powered in the conversion giving the Pirates a 8-0 lead with 9:16 left in the first half. Italy was unable to answer as their drive was stopped short when Jack Wrinkles intercepted a Justin Buchanan pass. The Pirates took over just inside Gladiator territory looking to add to their lead, but the big plays of Ryan Ashcraft and Brandon Souder forced Chilton into a fourth-and-long situation. Italy would take over at their own 19, but were pushed back to their end zone once again. On third-and-25 Buchanan wisely avoided a safety powering his way out of the end zone and away from the Pirate defenders. The second quarter expired with Chilton hanging on to an 8-0 lead.

The Pirates came out in the second half with a 24 yard run by David Domingez, before Jace Holden made a touchdown saving tackle. It looked as though Chilton had the early momentum until Tavarus Griffin recovered a Pirate fumble. Italy’s offense again stalled going three-and-out. The Gladiator defense held strong after Sparks and Medrano stuffed the Chilton ball carrier on second-and-short and two plays later the Pirates would be forced to punt. Italy would take over at the Chilton 43, the first time the Gladiator offense had been in Pirate territory. Italy was unable to take advantage of their best field possession of the night. The drive was stopped short when Thomas stepped in front of Buchanan’s pass and returned it 64 yards for the score. Dallas McClurrin hauled in the reception on the two-point conversion giving Chilton a 16-0 lead with 1:28 left in the third quarter. The Gladiators continued to struggle offensively as the third quarter came to a close.

Omar Estrada and Souder teamed up on defensive to help Italy stop the Pirate’s progress and give the offense a chance to stop the scoring drought. Buchanan led the Gladiators down field with their most promising drive of the night. Buchanan teamed up with Corrin Frazier and Simmons along the way moving down inside the Chilton red zone. A bad snap resulted in a turnover that knocked the air out of Italy’s sails. The Pirates added the nail into the coffin after Domingez scampered 85 yards to the end zone. The point after attempt was unsuccessful when Ethan Saxon hammered Thomas in the backfield. This gave Chilton a 22-0 victory over the Gladiators.