This literally happened: The visiting Tucson Sugar Skulls and host Duke City Gladiators traded second-half touchdowns Saturday night in the Rio Rancho Events Center, an Indoor Championship League game won by the Gladiators, 56-49.
Taking advantage of two interceptions thrown by Tucson QB Ramone Atkins – the Gladiators starting QB in 2022 – the Gladiators (3-4) built a 19-0 lead by the end of the opening quarter.
At halftime, the Sugar Skulls (3-3), on their way to their third loss in a row, trailed by 12, 26-14.
Then, after the Sugar Skulls scored on their first possession of the second half to trail 28-21, Duke City kept taking a two-touchdown lead, only to have the Sugar Skulls come back each time with a TD of their own, trailing by 14 and then seven pojnts the rest of the way.
Tucson scored last, with 51 seconds left in the game, but couldn’t get the ball back and QB Charles McCullum was able to take a knee and run out the clock.
Making his second start for the Gladiators, QB Charles McCullum was 14 of 21 passing for 150 yards, with four TDs and no interceptions. Tim Whitfield was on the receiving end of two of the TD passes; Demry Croft and Gary Brown had one apiece. Whitfield ran for 94 yards and had two rushing TDs, and McCullum also ran for a score.
Atkins finished 15 of 20 for 128 yards, with just one TD and the two first-quarter picks.
The Gladiators play at the San Diego Strike Force (2-5) Sunday, a team now quarterbacked by former Duke City standout Nate Davis. The Strike Force lost their May 13 game in Green Bay, 61-50.
Davis was 15 of 28 passing in that loss to the Blizzard, with four TDs and one interception. He also ran for a 2-yard score.
Duke City won a pair of close games vs. the Strike Force in 2022, 54-49 at the Events Center in late May and 53-51 in San Diego in early July.
The Gladiators’ next home game is Saturday, May 27, when the Northern Arizona Wranglers visit in a 6:05 p.m. kickoff.