The Italy Gladiators gave their hometown fans their money’s worth and more on Friday night when they beat the Malakoff Tigers 33-8. Italy played as a team and dominated their opponent on both sides of the ball which made the game of football look easy.
The extra effort at practice this week paid off for the Gladiators. Players stayed after practice to work on areas that needed improvement and the extra effort was evident on the field tonight. Several players showed noticeable improvement which gave Italy the advantage.
“We improved a lot this week,” said Coach Craig Bales. “Now we know what it feels like to win in gold. We played as a team and it showed. It was great for all our players to get a lot of playing time this week. The other coach asked us to let the clock run in the second half and we obliged.”
The Gladiator defense stepped up this week and showed the Tigers who ruled the field. Malakoff took the opening kickoff and went 3 and out. On their first possession of the game, Italy began their drive on their own 26. A 19 yard run by Clay Major took them across mid field, but 4 plays later they could not convert a 4th and 3. Possession see-sawed back and forth in the first period and the quarter ended scoreless.
When the 2nd quarter began, the Tigers went 3 and out again and was forced to punt. Italy wasted no time putting points on the board. At 10:39 Jasenio Anderson hit Diamond Rodgers with a perfectly executed 71 yard pass for the touchdown. PAT failed to give Italy a 6-0 lead.
The strength and quickness of the Gladiator defense proved costly to the Tigers. On the kickoff, Italy’s Ross Enriquez introduced himself to Justin Thomas by causing a fumble and Desmond Anderson was there to recover it.
It did not take Italy long to hit pay dirt. Anderson led his team 55 yards on 7 plays and scored on an 11 yard keeper. His 2 point conversion was good to give his team a 14-0 lead.
The pressure of the Italy defense caused Thomas to fumble again, but Italy could not get to the ball this time. The loss of yardage caused Malakoff to punt and relinquish possession.
The Italy offense was a scoring machine in the 2nd quarter. With 4:04 remaining in the half, Anderson hit Desmond Anderson with an 11 yard pass in the end zone. Malakoff could not move the ball so the Gladiators got another opportunity to score which they took advantage of. Five plays later Anderson hit Rodgers again from 18 yards out to give Italy a 26-0 halftime lead.
Italy came out in the 3rd quarter on fire and took the ball 60 yards down field. Clay Major scored on a 4 yard run and Anderson’s PAT split the uprights to put Italy on top 33-0.
With 9:30 remaining in the game, Malakoff’s Cornelius Richardson gave the Tigers a glimmer of hope when he danced 23 yards untouched into the end zone. His 2 point conversion was good, but their hopes were dashed when the game ended with Italy on top 33-8.
“Winning tonight felt pretty good,” said senior Clay Major. “We all worked hard this week. We stayed after practice to work on some of our weaker points and it paid off. I am proud of our guys.”
- Italy: 243 yards rushing/188 yards passing/361 total yards
- Jasenio Anderson: 14 carries for 116 yards
- Clay Major: 7 carries for 72 yards
- Jasenio Anderson: 6 of 11 for 118 yards
- Diamond Rodgers: 2 catches for 89 yards
- Desmond Anderson: 3 catches for 27 yards
- Malakoff: 184 yards rushing/0 yards passing/184 total yards
- Cornelius Richardson: 17 carries for 126 yards
- Justin Thomas: 5 carries for 35 yards
Players of the game
- MVP: The Entire Gladiator Defense
- Offense: Jasenio Anderson
- Defense: Jonathan Nash/Zach Hernandez
- Catch: Diamond Rodgers
- Thief: Ross Enriquez/Desmond Anderson
- Block: Clay Major
- Beef: Bobby Wilson
- Hit: Ethan Simon/Heath Clemons
- Standout: Roy Glaspy for perfect snaps