Italy Gladiators defeat Malakoff Tigers, 33-8
Italy - The Italy Gladiators gave their hometown fans their money’s worth and more on Friday night when they beat the Malakoff Tigers, 33-8.
The first quarter had both teams struggling and the hometown fans thought the game would be a repeat of last week.
With the beginning of the second quarter, Italy played as a team and dominated their opponent on both sides of the ball which made the game of football look easy.
"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 three 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 four plays later they could not convert a fourth and three and the drive ended.
Possession see-sawed back and forth in the first period and the quarter ended scoreless.
When the second quarter began, the Tigers went three 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 ensuing kickoff, Italy’s Ross Enriquez introduced himself to Justin Thomas by causing a fumble and Desmond Anderson quickly recovered it.
It did not take Italy long to hit pay dirt.
Anderson led his team 55-yards on seven plays and scored on an 11-yard keeper.
His two 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 second 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 third quarter on fire and took the ball 60-yards down field.
Clay Major scored on a four-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 two point conversion was good, but their hopes were dashed when the clock ran out 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."
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
184 yards rushing/0 yards passing/184 total yards
Cornelius Richardson: 17 carries for 126 yards
Justin Thomas: 5 carries for 35 yards