Italy football begins district play with win over Marlin
The Division 2A Italy Gladiators defeated the Marlin Bulldogs 23-21 in Italy’s district opener at home Friday.
During the homecoming game, both teams showed off their strong defenses with six touchdowns being shared throughout the night.
The game started with a Bulldog touchdown early in the first quarter. Though the Gladiators would fail to score during the first quarter, sophomore John Hall would successfully block a field goal attempt halfway into the quarter keeping the Bulldog lead to only seven.
With both teams having a slow start to the second quarter, the Gladiators would be the first ones to score with just under five minutes remaining in the half. The touchdown came in the form of a quarterback sneak from senior Jayden Saxon. With the Italy offense coming alive during the late part of the second half, freshman Gared Wood would intercept a pass by the Marlin quarterback in Bulldog territory. This would lead to another Gladiator touchdown with 2:47 left in the half. Italy went back to the locker rooms with a 14-7 lead.
Gladiator senior Julius Williams would open the second half strong with a kickoff-return of 80 yards. This set up Senior Jaiden Barr for a rushing touchdown only a few minutes into the second half. Even though the Bulldogs would answer quickly with a touchdown, the Gladiators would block the extra-point attempt.
With 8:54 left in the quarter, Marlin recovered their own onside kick, but they were not able to score off of it. Neither side would score the rest of the quarter leaving the score 21-13 going into the final quarter. With both teams facing strong defenses, it would be 9:57 left in the quarter when the Bulldogs would score a touchdown and a two point conversion to even up the score 21-21.
With Italy senior Jesus Luna landing a kickoff inside Marlin’s one yard line, it would set up the Gladiators to sack Bulldog junior quarterback Desmond Woodson for an extra two points. With both teams being evenly matched, the game came down to a very well placed kickoff in the fourth quarter.
Both teams proved to have strong defenses throughout the match. The homecoming win advanced the Gladiators to 4-2 on the season and 1-0 in district. The defending district champions will have their third straight home game against Kerens next week.