Miracle finish?

Yeah, you could call it that.

Last Saturday (June 4), the Duke City Gladiators were trailing the visiting Massachusetts Pirates 43-35 with 39 seconds left in regulation in an Indoor Football League game in the Rio Rancho Events Center.

The Pirates (7-4) had just scored after a four-play, 16-yard scoring drive. The extra point missed –thankfully for Gladiators fans.

Thirty-seven seconds later, Gladiators quarterback Ramone Atkins found the end zone on a 2-yard run to make it 43-41. To tie the game, he tossed a 2-point conversion pass to Dello Davis. :02 showed on the clock.

Duke City kicker Kevin Goessling, taking full advantage of an IFL rule, drove the ensuing kickoff through the uprights for a “rouge,” giving the Gladiators an exciting 45-43 victory.

It was the fourth win in a row for the Gladiators (6-5).

Earlier, the Gladiators spotted Massachusetts the game’s first TD, then tied the game at 7-all and, later, 14-all. Those two Gladiator TDs came on a 31-yard aerial from Atkins to Greg Dent and a 14-yard scamper to paydirt by Atkins.

Atkins’ 2-yard run made it 21-14, after Goessling’s PAT, and Massachusetts booted a field goal to close to 21-17, which was the score at halftime.

Jackson Devonte’s 1-yard run early in the second half gave Duke City a 28-17 lead, with the Pirates scoring three unanswered touchdowns and taking a 37-28 lead.

D’Drarin Primes returned a blocked field goal 40 yards to cut the lead to 37-35, following another Goessling PAT, with 2:06 left in the fourth quarter.

The Pirates’ final TD of the game – that short, 16-yard drive – came with 39 ticks to go, leading to Atkins’ and Goessling’s heroics.

Duke City plays three of its final five games on the road, starting with a game in Frisco, Texas, this Saturday. It’ll be the third meeting between the teams, with Frisco winning the first two, 60-33 in Rio Rancho and 42-41 in Frisco.

The Gladiators are home June 18 to face the Arizona Rattlers and then July 16 to entertain the Northern Arizona Wranglers.