Italy loses home opener to Palmer

Image: Palmer vs Italy — Italy Pride and the Varsity Cheerleaders mixed the spirit up and came up with this awesome group. Way to go IHS!

Palmer vs Italy — Italy Pride and the Varsity Cheerleaders mixed the spirit up and came up with this awesome group. Way to go IHS! (Anne Sutherland)

ITALY, Texas — The Palmer Bulldogs (2-1) traveled to Italy (0-3) Friday night and chalked up their first win of the season by defeating the Gladiators 19-7. Palmer kept Italy scoreless until late in the fourth quarter when Jasenio Anderson hit Desmond Anderson with a 14 yard touchdown pass.

Palmer quarterback T.J. Barnes had no trouble finding Trenton Harris and Cord Langthorn for big yardage. The Gladiator defense was kept at bay by the Bulldog line giving Barnes extra time to connect with his receivers.

“We played well tonight,” said Barnes. “We played as a team. The line gave me all day to pass so we were able to make big plays.”

The fans saw a first quarter see-saw battle which neither team could win. Both were held scoreless in the period. On their first drive of the second quarter, Palmer would capitalize on a 10 play, 83 yard drive to the end zone. Barnes hit Harris with two 13 yard passes. On the next play, Eddie Harden dodged defenders and gained 27 yards and a first down on the 1 yard line. Barnes pumped it in on a quarterback keeper.

Italy moved the ball 46 yards on 12 plays to the Palmer 28. Jeff Claxton, Ross Enriquez and Zach Hernandez dug in and blocked the Bulldog defenders giving Jasenio Anderson running room. On fourth and 12, Palmer denied Italy the first down and Italy turned the ball over on downs.

With :19 left in the half, on fourth and 9 the Bulldogs would strike a second time with a 33 yard pass from Barnes to Harris. On the subsequent kick off, Italy’s Diamond Rodgers bobbled the ball and Josh Garcia was there to recover on the Italy 33 yard line. Barnes hit Harris with a 30 yard pass on the 3, but Italy got a break when the clock ran out, denying the Bulldogs a chance to score again. Palmer left the field with a 12-0 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs came out in the second half ready to give Italy as much as they could handle. On their first possession, Eddie Harden found the end zone from 51 yards out and Adam Caussey’s PAT was good to put Palmer on top 19-0.

The Italy defense led by Clay Major and Jonathan Nash stepped up and held the Bulldogs scoreless the rest of the contest. On the other side of the ball, the Gladiators struggled to find the end zone. In the fourth quarter, Italy was within 30 yards of the end zone when an Anderson pass intended for John Isaac was picked off by Jeremiah Jackson. Momentum shifted to Italy four plays later when John Isaac intercepted a Barnes pass intended for Harris. Italy could not keep the drive alive and turned the ball over on downs.

“We made mistakes early in the game and they capitalized on our errors quickly,” said Italy Head Coach, Craig Bales. “Our kids kept fighting. We are going to build on our strengths next week.”

Italy will face Malakoff at home next Friday night at 7:30.

MVP – Jonathan Nash
Thief – John Isaac
Hit – Clay Major
Block – Jeff Claxton
Beef – Zach Hernandez
Catch – Desmond Anderson
Defense – Jonathan Nash/Clay Major
Offense – John Isaac/Desmond Anderson