ITALY — Last week, Italy High School opened its new stadium with a 40-point rout of Valley Mills High School.
Seven days later, it lost a 29-21 shootout to dual-threat quarterback Wesley Huitt and Mildred High School in the waning second on Friday at Gladiator Stadium.
"I couldn't be more proud of these guys than I am right now. They stuck together and it shows the family's coming together," said David Weaver, the Gladiators' head football coach.
While Italy flushed Huitt from the pocket and forced a wildly inaccurate 3-for-14 and 100-yard performance, he was the Eagles' leading rusher with 202 yards on 23 carries. Senior back Jeremy Humphries added 127 yards on 16 carries.
After closing the first quarter scoreless, Italy totaled 14 points in the second to close the deficit to a 7-point margin. The Gladiators defense shut Mildred out in the third quarter and tied the sc ore at 21, but a late touchdown and subsequent 2-point conversion broke the deadlock and kept the Eagles undefeated.
Italy (1-1) rushed for 232 yards with running backs Kendrick Norwood (28 rush, 189 yds TD), Dalan Slade (4 rush, 16 yds), Al Waits (3 rush, 6 yds). Wallace added a four rushes for 21 yards and a touchdown and went 3-for7 passing with 68 yards and a touchdown.
Waits had two catches for 56 yards and the lone receiving score.
The Gladiators won their 2016 matchup with Mildred 41-21 on the road at Eagle Stadium with the help of 149 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries from Norwood and a 14-for-21, 175-yard and two-touchdown performance from Wallace.
Former Gladiator Chasston King also had 30 yards and two scores.
"We lost but it was against a tough team with a talented quarterback," Weaver said. "We'll reap the benefits in the future."
Italy will face Blooming Grove High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gladiator Stadium. The Lions split their first two games, losing their season opener against Marlin High School 24-0 on Aug. 31 and beating Hubbard High School 24-6 on Sept. 8.
The Gladiators defeated Blooming Grove 42-0 last season — part of a three-game winning streak.
*Additional reporting by Fred Phipps/Daily Light