Albuquerque, N.M. – The Gladiators certified their first victory on Saturday night against the defending league champions, the Wichita Force. The Force were definitely not in Kansas anymore as Duke City defeated them in a nail bitter 40-38.
It was an exciting atmosphere at Tingley Coliseum in “The Duke City” and if you weren’t in the stands, you missed out on the most exciting game this season.
It only took 41 seconds for the Gladiators to draw first blood. Quarterback Donovan Porterie tossed a long bomb 32 yard touchdown to Wide Receiver Larry Cobb. Duke City made sure that their foot never left the gas pedal as a 10 yard pass to Running Back Christopher Robinson increased the lead to 14-0 with 6:05 remaining in the 1st quarter. Wichita was slow on the start as they wouldn’t be able to put points on the board until a 7 yard pass from Medlock to Peoples with 4:35 remaining in the first gave life to the Force. The Gladiator momentum didn’t stop as DL Kyle Patterson blocked Wichita’s PAT. The score would remain 14-6 at the end of the 1st quarter.
It was the same story for the Gladiators in the second quarter as Porterie made an 11 yard connection to WR Ricardo Johnson in just 12 seconds. Duke City extended their lead to 21-6 and it would take Wichita 6:08 to score again on a Medlock to Soft 2 yard TD pass. Gladiator Kicker Brian Weems was the star of the game as he nailed a 24 yard field goal to stretch the lead to 24-13 with 5:04 remaining in the 1st half. The pressure wouldn’t stop Duke City as the offense made haste to put more points on the board 4 minutes later. A 13 yard touchdown grab by WR Julian Walker moved the scoreboard to 30-13. The Gladiator defense stepped up and forced the Force to turnover on downs with just 18 seconds on the clock. Don’t let the lack of time short change Brian Weems as he tacked a 27 yard field goal to end the half and the Gladiators roll 34-13.
The 3rd quarter again showed no change for the Gladiator momentum as the defense led by DB Jayson Serda, stopped Wichita in their tracks to turn the ball over. The Force defense finally had their chance as they forced a fumble and recovered to score on a 1 yard rush to close the gap to 34-20 and 7:37 left in the third. A mental mistake on the Gladiator kick return team gave the Force 2 points on a safety and the ball back in their hands. Wichita’s Medlock hit Soft again for a 2 yard touchdown making the score 34-28 and 2:04 on the clock.
The 4th quarter started out with a bang as Weems booted a 22 yard field goal to extend the lead again 37-28 with 11:58 remaining. As both defenses battled for field control, the Force finally equalized a field goal from 19 yards out to cut it down to 37-31 and 5:54 remaining in the game. Again, Weems made sure the Gladiator lead moved forward on a 16 yard field goal kick to add three more points. With a score of 40-31 and 69 ticks left in the game, the Force made a quick surprise as Chris Anderson returned the kickoff for 48 yards and a touchdown.
57 seconds was all that lingered for a Gladiator win. The Duke City offense burned the clock all the way down to 0 and the first win of 2017 was in the books.
Head Coach Dominic Bramante on the win said, "Wichita is a tough team and it shows being last year's champs... But we brought it tonight and now the league knows we are out to make it to the top of the mountain."
QB Porterie finished 17-30, 190 passing yards, and 4 touchdown passes. Kicker Brian Weems was really the star of the game as he scored 16 points himself by way of 4 of 4 field goals and 4 of 4 on PATs. The Gladiators controlled the ball for 25:56 and had 16 first downs. On the defensive side, Serda led the team on 13 total tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Dontrell Johnson assisted in the defensive success with 8 total tackles.
The first ever broadcast of the Gladiators game on My 50 TV was a success. Saturday’s game was seen across the state of New Mexico on My50TV and every home game the rest of the season will be covered by the TV station.
The Gladiators play their third home game of the season against the newest team in the league, the Centex Cavalry. The matchup takes place this Saturday March 25th, 2017 with kick-off at 6:05 PM at Tingley Coliseum (300 San Pedro Dr. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87108). Doors will open at 2:30 PM.