MAYPEARL - The Italy Gladiator and Maypearl Panther football teams teed the ball up in Maypearl Friday night. It was homecoming for Maypearl and the Gladiators spoiled their party with a 21-0 victory.
The Gladiator scores came on three big plays. They had no sustained drive to the credit of the Panther defense. First it was a 70-yard run by Detrick Green with just 2:20 gone in the first quarter. A two point conversion made the score 8-0. Then a 26-yard pass from Jasenio Anderson to JR Hill pushed the Gladiator lead to 15-0 and just 1:27 remained in the first half. The final Italy score came from the 50-yard line when Sam Norcross picked up a loose pigskin and raced to the Panther end zone. The score went to 21-0 and 7:25 remained in the game.
Maypearl drives consumed time off the clock, but produced no score. After the first Gladiator score the Panthers started from their own 30-yard line and drove down the field on runs by Derrell Ashlock and a 23-yard pass from Conner Vaughan to Patrick Hughes. The drive ended at the Italy 19-yard line on a snap that went awry.
The Panther defense led up front by Austin Weatherford, Rusty Hensel, Jacob Cooper and Justin Helms shut down the Gladiators until their initial second half possession. After a punt Maypearl started from its own 40-yard line. Ashlock and Beck ran the ball down the field.
Weatherford and Cooper, playing both sides of the ball along with Blake Hodge, Michael Inman and Tyler Merenda threw the blocks that led the drive down to the Italy 10-yard line. There a lost fumble ended the hopes for a Panther score. Italy was three and out followed by Maypearl doing the same. A snap got away on the Panther punt attempt and Italy had the ball in the shadow of the Maypearl goal line. The gladiators fumbled on first down and Maypearl was back in business at the 11-yard line. The Panthers were then intercepted.
Italy ran out of downs as Maypearl began a drive from the Panther 20-yard line. Beck ran for 9-yards.
Vaughan hit Brett Salter with a pass that covered 20 yards. A sweep lost four and a lateral on the ground turned into a Gladiator 50-yard touchdown run and the final score was posted. Maypearl never quit. Their final drive from the Panther 39-yard line went to the Gladiator 18 as Italy again turned the Panthers away.
Maypearl will host Hamilton Friday night. Italy will travel to Malakoff.