Scoring on the game’s final play Saturday evening in Frisco, Texas, the host Fighters eked out a 47-46 victory over visiting Duke City, ending the Gladiators’ four-game win streak.
The Gladiators (6-6) had taken a 46-34 lead with 13:48 left in regulation on an 8-yard TD pass from quarterback Ramone Atkins to Dello Davis. A two-point conversion pass failed, and Duke City needed to tighten its defense to claim its seventh win of the year.
It didn’t happen.
The Fighters (10-2), beat the Gladiators for the third time in as many meetings – and second one-point setback — scored on a 18-yard TD pass and ensuing PAT with 11:53 left to close to 46-41, then got the winning TD as time expired.
It was closely contested through the game’s first three quarters: tied at 13, 20 and 34 before a 31-yard TD pass from Atkins to Greg Dent gave Duke City’s a 40-34 lead – the PAT missed – with 5:57 to go in the third period.
Atkins was 19 of 31 passing and finished with five TD passes and one interception, good for 240 yards through the air. He also scored on a 1-yard run for the Gladiators’ first TD of the game.
The Gladiators are back in the Rio Rancho Events Center Saturday (June 18) to face the Arizona Rattlers and then again July 16, the final game of the regular season, to entertain the Northern Arizona Wranglers.
Duke City’s other remaining games are on the road: at northern Arizona on June 25 and at San Diego on July 9.