The Duke City Gladiators are back in the Rio Rancho Events Center Saturday at 6:05 p.m. to tackle the Tulsa Oilers (0-1), who fell to Frisco in their opener on March 24, 35-13. Tulsa is a new team in the Indoor Football League.
The Gladiators (1-1) are coming off a “Close, but no cigar” loss to the Frisco Fighters (3-0) last Saturday in their Indoor Football League meeting in the Events Center.
“We gotta clean up some things,” DCG coach Fred Griggs said Thursday afternoon at the media luncheon.
For almost the entire game, the Gladiators and Fighters traded touchdowns and rouges – and in the second quarter, matched each other with two turnovers. By game’s end, there had been a dozen lead changes.
Gladiators defensive lineman Mason Newton, who sacked and forced a fumble from the Frisco QB, recovering it in the end zone, helped the home team tie the game at 23.
At the media luncheon, Newton got a few laughs when asked about his rare TD, as he said he loved playing football because, “There’s no other place in the world you can go hitting people for a living.”
And there’s no shortage of hitting in the IFL
Seconds after the Newton score, a Frisco field goal put the visitors in front, 26-23.
But by game’s end, the Fighters had just enough strength to emerge as a 60-55 winner, claiming their fifth straight victory over the Gladiators.
The Gladiators scored late, with :32 to go, on a TD pass to cut the margin to five again, but couldn’t get the ball back – so the team that had the ball last did win.
The Gladiators led 16-14 heading into the second quarter, trailed 26-23 at halftime and were within five after three periods, 40-35 – matching the final margin of victory.
Griggs told the Albuquerque Journal that it’s just a matter of getting a break at the right time.
“It’s timing with everything,” he said. “We miss plays at the worst times. … We had them where we wanted them. Had some costly turnovers at the end. We didn’t get stops. The guys fought to the end, but we just didn’t finish. Too many mistakes and we just didn’t execute enough.”
Gladiators quarterback Nate Davis, back from a knee injury that sidelined him the bulk of last season, threw four touchdown passes but also had three passes intercepted, the final returned for a Frisco TD.
Receivers Xavier Amey and Gary Brown each had two TD catches, combining for 10 receptions and 144 yards.
“We lost by one possession, a tough loss, but we’ll be back,” Amey said. “We’re coming back.”
(Glen Rosales of the Albuquerque Journal contributed to this story.)