Giving up 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter Saturday night led to a Duke City Gladiators’ 49-41 loss in Prescott Valley to the Northern Arizona Wranglers.
The Gladiators (6-8) gave up only seven points, in the game’s opening quarter, while Duke City reached the end zone three times in the second stanza, en route to a 21-14 halftime lead.
The second half’s kickoff was fumbled by the Gladiators, scooped up by Wranglers linebacker Darin Hungerford, and run into the end zone for the touchdown.
The teams traded touchdowns, with Duke City holding a 35-26 lead as the third quarter ended.
The lead grew to 41-26 on quarterback Ramone Atkins’ fourth and final TD pass of the game, a 6-yarder to Greg Dent. The point-after was missed but returned for two points by the Wranglers – and the Gladiators were done scoring in the game, holding a 41-28
Northern Arizona added three TDs in the fourth quarter, sealing the deal when the Gladiators coughed up the kickoff – their lone turnover of the game — following the score that made it a 49-41 Wranglers’ lead with nine seconds to play.
Atkins was 7 of 18 passing for 128 yards, including four TD passes, without an interception.
First place in the IFL’s Western Division is on the line Saturday, when the Wranglers head south to Phoenix to meet the second-place Arizona Rattlers (11-3). The Wranglers won the first match-up, a few weeks back, by a score of 37-34.
The Gladiators are idle this week, next heading to San Diego to meet the Strike Force (3-10), who meeting the visiting Tucson Sugar Skulls Saturday.
The Gladiators’ regular season ends July 10 when the Wranglers visit the Rio Rancho Events Center in a 6 p.m. kickoff.