Albuquerque, N.M. – They say we still live in the “wild west” and Saturday night’s game between the Gladiators and the Venom was just that. Both offenses put up impressive numbers which lead to an intense overtime battle in which Duke City lost 70-69.
It seems as if the Southern Division of the CIF is the most intense conference in the league. Whenever Duke City and Amarillo meet, it is always a shootout that never disappoints the crowd. High scoring games, big plays and high tensions make every Gladiator and Venom game one you don’t want to miss.
The night was donned “Albuquerque Dukes Night” as the Gladiators paid homage to Albuquerque’s most iconic and historical team, the Albuquerque Dukes baseball club. Duke City wore “Albuquerque Dukes” inspired football jerseys that were a hit amongst fans.
First quarter was all about defense as both teams made drive stops to turn the ball over. Amarillo had first possession, but turned the ball over on an interception by Defensive Back Jayson Serda. At about half way through the first quarter, the Gladiators turned the ball over on downs and set up an Amarillo touchdown to draw first blood. It was no match for Wide Receiver Larry Cobb as he answered back with a 4 yard touchdown grab on 4th and goal. The first quarter ended 7-7.
It seemed as the paced picked up in the 2nd quarter as the Venom had the possession in the beginning of the quarter. The Amarillo drive was interrupted by a nice interception by DB Dontrell Johnson with 12:35 on the clock. Again, the Amarillo defense was able to stop the Gladiator drive as Duke City turned things over. The Venom started on their own 18 and drove to take the lead 14-7. It was only one minute and thirty-seven seconds later that the Gladiators punched in the tie with an Antonio Bray 2 yard rush and 3:37 remaining on the clock. The score was set up by WR Dexter Manley securing a 35 yard reception. From this point it was all offensive power as both defenses couldn’t stop the other team. Amarillo drove 41 yards on their next possession to take the lead once again 21-14. With only 47 seconds left in the 1st half, QB Donovan Porterie threw passes to receivers London, Cobb, and Julian Walker to set up a 1 yard QB touchdown rush. It was 21-21 at halftime as the Venom attempted a 30 yard field goal and missed.
The 3rd quarter defined what indoor football is all about as both teams put a total of 48 points on the board in one quarter. The Gladiators had first possession in the second half and made easy work to score in just 2 plays and 45 seconds. Kicker Brian Weems was unable to make the PAT but at 27-21, this would be Duke City’s first lead of the game. From here the Gladiators stepped on the gas as they again scored in 45 seconds and two plays. It was now 34-21 with 8:39 left in the third quarter. Amarillo was able to answer back in four plays to cut the lead. This did not deflect the momentum of Duke City as it only took one play and a Walker 32 yard touchdown reception for the Gladiators to push the lead to 41-28. The “shoot out” between both teams began as Amarillo cut the lead to 41-35 in just one play. 1:41 later, Duke City answered back with another touchdown by Bray in just 3 plays. With just a few ticks remaining on the clock, Amarillo tossed a 16 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead 48-42 to end the quarter.
The 4th quarter started a bit rough for the Gladiators as a fumble by Cobb lead to a turnover and a set up for Amarillo to close in and score making it 48-42. Another turnover for the Gladiators led to another touchdown for the Venom and a tie up of 48-48 with a missed PAT by Felton. With 11:23 remaining in the game, Bray punched in a 1 yard touchdown rush moving the scoreboard 55-48 in favor of the Gladiators. 6:33 ran off the clock before Amarillo scored again. It was tied and only 4:50 remained in the game. Duke City continued to edge out the Venom as a nice 14 yard grab by Walker resulted in a touchdown and the lead once again with 2:15 remaining. It was 62-55 and Amarillo’s Nate Davis ensured the game would go to over time as they drove and scored. With just over 27 ticks on the clock, Porterie attempted to make big plays but couldn’t convert and overtime ensued.
Overtime gives both teams the equal opportunity to score. Whichever team scores the most points on their possession wins the game.
At the coin toss, the Gladiators had first possession and started their drive at midfield. It only took 1 play for Porterie to make a connection to Walker to score. Duke City went up 69-62. It was Amarillo’s turn to drive. The Venom’s Nate Davis made a connection to Johnson to score. The game was on the line now as Amarillo elected to go for 2 points. In a deafening arena, Davis converts on a rush and the Gladiators fall by just 1 point 70-69.
The Gladiators had a total of 365 yards of offense compared to the Venom’s 316. QB Donovan Porterie threw for 21 of 38, 6 touchdown passes, 1 rushing touchdown and 333 passing yards. WR Julian Walker had 3 TD receptions for 92 yards and RB Antonio Bray had 39 rushing yards and 2 TD’s. On the defensive front, DB Ray Little had a nice game as he had a total of 5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 breakup.
The Gladiators are now 0-2 on the season and look to turn things around this next game against the 1-1 Wichita Force on Saturday. The Force are the 2016 CIF champions and Saturday’s matchup will only be the second time in three seasons the two teams meet.
The Gladiators play their second home game in the season against the defending league champions, the Wichita Force. The matchup takes place this Saturday March 18th, 2017 with kick-off at 4:05 PM at Tingley Coliseum (300 San Pedro Dr. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87108). Doors will open at 2:30 PM.