Thursday night, the Italy 8th grade pulled off a come from behind victory over the Frost 7th and 8th grade team in the last 24 seconds when Tyvion Copeland scored his third touchdown of the night. Copeland followed blockers 25 yards into the end zone to tie the game 30-30 then added two on the conversion to put Italy on top 32-30.
Frost’s Danial Steels chalked up 217 yards rushing on 18 carries and took all but three of the Polar Bear snaps. He found the end zone four times for the Bears. Steels also dominated the Frost defense on tackles.
On their first possession of the game, Frost hit pay dirt on a Steels’ 55 yard touch down scamper. His two-point conversion gave the Polar Bears an 8-0 lead.
Italy began their opening drive of the game on their own 30-yard line but could not get the drive going and were forced to punt. The Gladiator defense led by Zack Latimer and Chris Blackstock put pressure on Frost resulting in Italy regaining possession on downs.
In the second quarter, Italy started their drive at midfield and eight plays later put their first points on the board with a 26-yard pass from Wooldridge to Copeland. Chase Hamilton’s two-point conversion tied the score 8-8.
Lattimer, Wooldridge and Hamilton applied pressure forcing Frost to punt. On the first play of the drive, Copeland hit Cole Hopkins with a 52-yard pass to put Italy on the Frost 28-yard line. Two plays later Jacob Stroder intercepted a Wooldridge pass intended for Copeland to stop Italy short of the goal line and end the half.
The beginning of the third quarter saw Italy go 3 and out. Steels led his team 60 yards on four carries to score from 15 yards out with 5:17 remaining in the quarter.
On their next possession, the Italy fans saw a Chase Hamilton 55-yard pass nullified due to a penalty. Then Stroeder picked off a second Wooldridge pass intended for Copeland. With less than a minute remaining in the third period, Steels struck again with a 28-yard touchdown. A successful conversion pass from Stroder to Keith Jordan ended the quarter with Frost on top 22-8.
Italy came out in the last period with a new found hunger to win. With less than one minute off the clock, Copeland dodged defenders and sprinted 16 yards across the goal line. Wooldridge hit the two-point conversion to bring Italy within eight.
One minute later, Steels retaliated with a 46 yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion to give the Polar Bears a 30-16 lead.
Italy stepped up their offensive game with effective blocking and ball handling. The drive ended with 2:16 left on the clock with a Wooldridge 1-yard dance into the end zone. Copeland came through again with a successful conversion to close the gap 30-24.
Chase Hamilton breathed new life into the Gladiators and put the Italy fans on their feet when he recovered a Yonatan Davila onside kick to give his team great field position on the Frost 46-yard line. With 10 seconds remaining in the game, Copeland’s extra effort would tie the score on a 25-yard touchdown run. Hamilton gave Italy the only lead in the game, but the most important one when he successfully ran in the two-point conversion.
Frost had only six seconds to get into the end zone and take home a victory, but Hamilton had other plans. With a hit that echoed through the stadium, he tackled Steels causing him to lose the ball as the buzzer sounded. The Gladiators squeaked by Frost 32-30.
A newly formed Red Oak C team traveled to Italy to take on the Gladiator 7th grade. On the opening kick off, the Hawks fumbled the ball and Italy recovered. Four plays later Justin Wood scored from the 8-yard line to put Italy on the board 6-0. Italy’s onside kick was recovered by Eric Carson and Trevon Robertson punched it in from the 4 to put Italy on top 12-0.
Tristan Smithwick, Trevon Robertson and Justin Wood stepped up on defense to hold Red Oak to 4 total yards rushing in the game. With 1:49 remaining in the half, Eric Carson scored on a 6-yard keeper and Robertson’s conversion added two to give Italy a 20-0 lead at halftime.
Italy did not score again until the final period when Deiondre Cockran sprinted 17 yards into the endzone. Wood’s conversion was successful to give Italy a 28-0 win over Red Oak.
The Red Oak C team was formed on Monday which did not give the players much time to practice together. These athletes never gave up. Rodriquez, Thompson and Ivory stepped up on defense to keep Italy from moving the ball effectively on several drives.
The Gladiators dominated the game on both sides of the ball. Their strengths were evident throughout the contest.