Italy 8th graders try to collar the Dawson Bulldogs

Image: Harris has touchdown — Paul Harris (#84) caught this ball and added points to the board Thursday night in a game against Dawson.

Harris has touchdown — Paul Harris (#84) caught this ball and added points to the board Thursday night in a game against Dawson. (Anne Sutherland)

ITALY, Texas — Hard hits and big plays defined this contest between old rivals as a late touchdown grab by #84 Paul Harris gives Italy a chance.

Tailback #10 Chase Hamilton dashed for a 60-yard touchdown on Italy’s first offensive play against the Dawson Bulldogs. The extra point attempt failed but Italy delivered the first blow, taking a 6-0 lead. The Bulldogs marched down the field on their ensuing possession and tied the score as #25 for Dawson plunged in from the 1-yard line. The conversion failed. Italy fumbled on the following possession, and it was recovered by #45 for Dawson. The Bulldogs were on the move again when the first quarter ended with the score remaining tied 6-6.

In the second quarter, Dawson drove down the field with #21 for Dawson finding the end zone from 8-yards out. The conversion was good and Dawson took the lead 14-6 at the 5:38 mark. The Gladiators answered back with quarterback #6 Tony Wooldridge scoring on an 18-yard run with 1:43 left in the first half. The extra point attempt failed leaving the Bulldogs with a 14-12 advantage.

Dawson tried to regain the momentum but fumbled the ball on their second carry and #50 Yonatan Davila recovered it for Italy with 1:14 still on the clock. However, Italy fumbled the ball right back to the Bulldogs as #45 for Dawson scooped up the ball with :59 left. Managing the clock well, Dawson’s #25 scored from 3 yards out with only :02 left in the half. The conversion was successful and Dawson lead at halftime 22-14.

Italy caught the Bulldogs napping at the start of the third quarter when #84 for Italy recovered an onside kick. Italy pushed the ball down to the 8-yard line but a Gladiator fumble on the next carry picked up by #35 of Dawson forced Hamilton to make a touchdown saving tackle back at Italy’s 33-yard line. Dawson was unable to capitalize thanks to two tackles in the backfield by linebacker #10 Chase Hamilton and an offensive penalty on the Bulldogs. After Dawson turned the ball over on downs, the Gladiator offense took over at it’s own 20-yard line. However, miscues and penalties moved the Italy offense backwards to the 9-yard line. That’s when Hamilton raced down the right sideline for a 91-yard touchdown. Wooldrige plowed in for the two-point conversion. Dawson was still leading 22-20 with 5:15 left in the 4th quarter.

Dawson started their next possession on their on 33-yard line but the Gladiator defense couldn’t slow the Bulldog offense down. #24 for Dawson eventully sprinted into the endzone from 40 yards out. The conversion was good and Dawson lead 30-20 as the two-minute warning was approaching. Hamilton ran the Dawson kickoff all the way for a score but a “spot of the foul” penalty brought the ball back out to Dawson’s 33-yard line. Runs by Woodridge and Hamilton setup a touchdown toss from Wooldridge to #84 Paul Harris for Italy with 1:33 left in the contest. Wooldridge ran through a Dawson defender to get the two-point conversion making the score 30-28 with Italy trailing. Dawson recovered the ensuing onside kick by Italy and then ran out the clock bringing to an end an exciting night of football at Willis Field.

The Italy Varsity squad plays Friday night in Dawson at 7:30 p.m. Let’s all be there to support our Gladiators as they strive to reach the playoffs. A win by 6 or more guarantees Italy a spot in the post season!