Italy Gladiators outlasted by the Dawson Bulldogs

Image: IHS cheerleaders — The Italy Gladiators traveled to Dawson Friday night to play the Bulldogs.

IHS cheerleaders — The Italy Gladiators traveled to Dawson Friday night to play the Bulldogs. (Anne Sutherland)

DAWSON, Texas — Diamond Rodgers led his team mates into battle carrying a sacred golden flag as the Italy Gladiators stormed into the Dawson Bulldogs’ stadium looking for a win.

Italy Gladiator captains: Zach Hernandez, Clay Major and Diamond Rodgers chose to receive the kick from Dawson to open the game. John Isaac caught it and advanced the ball to the Italy 28-yard line. Then Jasenio Anderson, quarterback, warmed up with a 4-yard run to the 32-yard line. Next, Jasenio Anderson completed a 3-yard pass to Desmond Anderson at the Italy 35. Jasenio Anderson and Clay Major pounded the ball to their own 48-yard line. On the next play, Jasenio Anderson sprinted his way down to the Dawson 15-yard line. Clay Major was held to no gain on the next play but Jasenio Anderson would pick up 8 yards on the following carry. After no gain, Jasenio Anderson pitched to Clay Major who was forced out of bounds for a 2-yard loss and the Dawson Bulldogs took over on downs. However, #2 Alex Shaw for Dawson would fumble on his first carry and Italy had the ball on Dawson’s 15-yard line. A couple of plays later, Jasenio Anderson faked the pass and handed the ball to Clay Major on the draw, who barreled his way into the end zone. The PAT (point after touchdown) was good by Jasenio Anderson as Italy struck first 7-0 with 8:05 left in the first quarter.

On their next possession, the Bulldogs got the ball into Italy territory after a long run by #22 Michael Vaughn. Dawson would actually cross the goal line but not earn any points due to a holding penalty, backing them up to the 27-yard line. Shaw for Dawson ran to the 9 on the next play and was tackled by Dontavius Clemons. A false start backed up Dawson to the 14-yard line with 4:30 left in the first quarter. Then the Italy defense stepped up as Heath Clemons knocked down a pass at the 4-yard line making it second down and 15 yards to go for Dawson. Jasenio Anderson and Kyle Wilkins held the Dawson runner for just a 2-yard gain on the next play, forcing a third down with 13 yards to go for Dawson. The following snap, Ross Enriquez forced the Dawson quarterback into an intentional grounding call. Dawson punts into the end zone on fourth down allowing Italy to start their third possession from their own 20-yard line.

Several big plays by Jasenio Anderson, including three pass completions to Desmond Anderson moved the ball toward Dawson’s goal line. Clay Major also rumbled for a 6-yard gain on the drive. Jasenio Anderson would follow his blockers in from 30 yards out to give Italy a 13-0 lead with :25 left in the first quarter. The PAT missed wide.

Dawson was on a mission with their next possession. Heath Clemons, Jonathan Nash, Justin Hayes and Ethan Simon did all they could legally to keep the Bulldogs from scoring. However, #25 Kameron Warren of Dawson plowed in behind his offensive line getting the Bulldogs on the board 13-6 but still trailing Italy. The PAT was wide by Dawson kicker #5 Steven Travis with 8:00 left in the second quarter.

The following kickoff was mishandled by Italy setting up Dawson for their second score on Italy’s own 20-yard line. Alex Shaw would score from 1-yard out for the Bulldogs. The two-point conversion was good by Shaw and Dawson had their first lead of the game 14-13 with 5:56 remaining in the half.

After the Dawson kickoff, fielded by Heath Clemons, Jasenio Anderson started leading the Gladiators down field once again. Jasenio Anderson had a gain of 15 yards on the drive as did Clay Major off a pitch from Anderson. The play of the drive however was the 7-yard touchdown pass from Anderson to Dontavius Clemons. Trent Morgan sealed as Zach Hernandez lead Anderson across the goal line for the two-point conversion giving Italy a 21-14 lead with 3:09 left before halftime.

Justin Hayes would make huge plays defensively, not letting the Bulldogs get loose. A defensive pick by Diamond Rodgers gave Italy another shot at a score with 1:52 still left in the first half. But Italy would be picked off near the Dawson end zone, unfortunately, so Italy had to settle for a 21-14 lead at halftime. Jasenio Anderson had 134 yards rushing and 51 yards passing going into the break.

Dawson got the kickoff starting the second half and Kameron Warren eventually rambled 59 yards around the left end for a Dawson touchdown. The PAT was successful and the score was tied 21-21 with 9:26 left in the third quarter.

Jasenio Anderson answered back on the ensuing Gladiator drive with a 38-yard touchdown scamper of his own with 6:12 left in the third quarter. The PAT failed but at least Italy had regained the lead 27-21.

After Italy kicked back to Dawson, Kyle Wilkins and Ethan Simon delivered hard hits but the Italy defense couldn’t keep the Bulldogs out of the end zone. Warren ran left 7 yards for the score. With 2:00 left in the third, Dawson had a 28-27 lead after the Bulldogs’ PAT attempt was true.

Dawson recovered the short kickoff again and took possession at the Italy 37-yard line. Tackles were made by Clemons, Hernandez and Isaac but Alex Shaw for Dawson rolled into the end zone after being popped by Ethan Simon. This gave Dawson a 34-27 advantage. Jasenio Anderson, returning from leg cramps, stopped Shaw on the two-point try with only 9:16 left in the contest.

Both teams went back and forth the rest of the way. The Gladiators gave it all they had but the Bulldogs managed to run out the clock.

The Italy fans are really proud of the boys for battling hard until the end of the game. There were always eleven Gladiators on the field hustling at all times proving that Italy Pride is growing strong. Seven JV players suited up also and got to see first hand the 110 percent effort put on display by the Varsity squad.

MVP — Jasenio Anderson
Offense — Without a doubt, Italy’s entire offensive line
Defense — Justin Hayes, Ethan Simon, Heath Clemons
Hit — Clay Major, Kyle Wilkins
Thief — Desmond Anderson
Catch — Dontavius Clemons, Desmond Anderson
Block — Zach Hernandez
Beef — Justin Hayes
Heart — Clay Major

Notable Game Stats:
Jasenio Anderson — 212 rushing yards, 73 passing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 1 passing TD
Clay Major — Was relentless with eight carries for 42 rushing yards (5.25 avg), 1 rushing TD
Dontavius Clemons — 1 TD catch
Diamond Rodgers — 1 int