ITALY — The Italy Gladiators ended their season with a bang when they defeated the Rice Bulldogs 30-6 Friday night at Willis Field.
From their first possession, the Gladiators proved they had what it takes to win. Italy held Rice scoreless until the last three minutes of the game.
The Gladiators dominated the game on both sides of the ball, coming up with big plays.
After being absent from the lineup the last three games due to an injury, senior running back, Detrick Green, chalked up 79 yards for the night and 1,079 for the season.
“Detrick had 1,000 yard when he had to leave the Mildred game due to an injury,” said head coach, Buddy Griffin. “I am glad he could play his last game tonight.”
Italy struck once in the first quarter with a 13-yard run by Evander Holbert and the extra point by Josh Howard. The end of the quarter would give Italy a 7-0 lead.
Both teams were unsuccessful moving the ball in the second quarter. With only six seconds left in the half, Josh Howard’s field goal put the Gladiators up 10-0.
Italy put 20 unanswered points on the board in the third quarter. One of Italy’s big plays came at 7:44 in the third when Dontavius Clemons returned a Rice punt 40 yards into the end zone. Howard’s extra point hit the uprights and Rice tried to run it back, but the Gladiator defense stopped them at midfield.
The Bulldogs suffered a costly turnover when they fumbled the ball and Sam Norcross was there to recover it.
On their first play of the possession, Green sprinted 36 yards for the touchdown. Howard’s extra point hit its mark to give Italy a 23-0 lead.
Again the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs. A holding penalty forced Italy into a second-and-17 situation.
Italy quarterback Jasenio Anderson on a keeper, dazzled the fans with a 65-yard touchdown run. Anderson led the Gladiators in rushing with 111 yards on 12 carries. Howard extra point again split the uprights to give the Gladiators a 30-0 lead going into the fourth quarter.
With 3:23 left in the game, the Bulldogs spoiled the Gladiatorsâ hopes for a shutout when quarterback Blake Lewis found the end zone from 7 yards out.
The Gladiator defense stepped up and stopped the 2-point conversion.
“We played hard tonight,” Griffin said. “t is good to finish the season with a win. I am proud of our guys.”
Italy finishes the season with a 5-5 record.