By Don Hullett
Daily Light correspondent
ITALY — The Italy Gladiators opened their 2020 football season at home on Friday night with a 46-0 shutout victory against the Chilton Pirates. With fans from both sides ready to get a little bit of normal into this year, both teams came out ready to show that nothing had changed for them. Gratefully, Friday Night Lights was on again, Italy-style.
The start of the game was a bit shaky for the Glads as they fumbled the opening kickoff. After a 6-play drive had stalled on the Italy 29-yard line, Chilton attempted a 40-yard field goal that was short of the mark, and the score remained tied at 0-0. The Gladiators took over on their own 40 and put together a 13-play drive to the Pirates 36, when they turned the ball over again when quarterback Jayden Saxon fumbled.
Chilton took over on its own 26 and then it was their turn to fumble the ball, and it was scooped up and returned by linebacker Jay-Lon Hernandez for 25 yards for the first points of the season for Italy. Kicker Jesus Luna split the uprights with the extra point and that gave the Gladiators a lead that they would not relinquish. Chilton took the ensuring kickoff and ran the final eight plays of the first quarter as it ended 7-0 for Italy.
Chilton punted the ball back to Italy, which took only one play for running back Jaiden Barr to scamper 74 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was just a bit wide making the score 13-0 with 10 minutes to go in the first half.
The Pirates took the kickoff and could not move the sticks and they were forced to punt from their own end zone. That punt was blocked by Hernandez out of the end zone, giving a safety to the Glads and making the score 15-0. Chilton was given the option to either punt or kick from a tee after the safety, they chose to punt and Italy’s Hernandez took the punt and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was good and that made the score 22-0. The Glads had scored three times within two minutes.
Finally, the teams traded possessions for the rest of the second quarter and went to the dressing rooms with Italy firmly in control of the game.
With the teams back on the field for the third quarter, neither could move the ball at first, until Barr scored his third touchdown of the game with a 2-yard scoot around the right side. The extra point was again true, making the score 29-0.
Chilton took the kickoff and put together a seven-play drive that ended with a fumble that Italy recovered. The Gladiators took over and put a six-play push that resulted in a 2-yard pass from Saxon to Evan Cunningham for another 6 points. The extra point was good and that brought the score to 36-0.
Italy closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter with another touchdown run from Barr that covered 40 yards, and then finally a 35-yard field goal by Luna.
This week Chilton (1-1) will travel to Normangee to take on the Panthers (1-0). Italy will stay at home this week to entertain the Rice Bulldogs (0-2).