Photo: Darrin Hungerford brings down Duke City quarterback Ramone Atkins
The Northern Arizona Wranglers rallied from a 15 point deficit, scoring 23 straight points in the final eight minutes to beat a shocked Duke City Gladiator team, 49-41 at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley. The win keeps the Wranglers a half game up on the Arizona Rattlers. The two top teams in the West will battle it out this Saturday.
The game was looking bleak for the home team with 8:19 to play, as the Gladiators picked up another touchdown to go up 41-26. The next play changed the momentum and woke up the Wranglers up as the extra point attempt was blocked by Tramond Lofton, leading to two points as Kiante Northington picked up the loose ball and jetted to the end zone to cut the deficit to 41-28.
Jerod Evans struggled at times but came through when it counted connecting on a 19 yard TD pass to Jerrime Neal. The kicking game was far from automatic Saturday night, as another miss kept the score at 41-34 with 5:03 left.
A perfect onside kick gave the offense the ball again and this time it was Israel Tucker sweeping in to score to close the gap to 41-40 with a minute left. After the timeout, Les Moss rolled the dice and converted on a two point play as Evans tossed the ball to Neal for a 42-41 lead as the crowd went into a frenzy. The Wranglers were not done yet, as another turnover on the kickoff gave the Wranglers ball back again, and Evans ran in from eight yards to add the exclamation point on the great comeback.
Wrangler coach Les Moss said, “We were not playing Wrangler football in that first half. At halftime we got into them, and challenged them to come out and play up to their potential. We are better than that and at the end we showed that.” As for the backup QBs performance, Moss added, “ I thought Jerod played well for us in key situations when it counted, and he was able to overcome his mistakes.”
Evans led all players in rushing with 89 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Passing, Evans was 14-25 for 146 yards, three TDs and one interception. Israel Tucker led in receiving, catching six passes for 62 yards, one TD, and also rushing for 26 yards and a touchdown. Jerrime Neal pulled in four passes for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively it was Kiante Northington, Darrin Hungerford, Bill Atkins, and Ulric Jones leading in tackles.
The Wranglers took a 7-0 lead, but trailed 21-14 at the half. Duke City led 35-26 after three quarters, and 41-26 before the big comeback. Duke City quarterback Ramone Atkins went 7-18, 128 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Atkins also led his team in rushing with 37 yards.
The season rematch with the Arizona Rattlers will take place in Phoenix, on Saturday at 6:05 pm. The game can be seen on YouTube.
NORTHERN ARIZONA WRANGLERS 49, DUKE CITY GLADIATORS 41
Score by Quarters- 1 2 3 4 – T
Duke City Gladiators 0 21 14 6 – 41
- Arizona Wranglers 7 7 12 23 – 49
NAZ-Neal 10 yd pass from Evans (Fischer kick)
DUKE-Davis 15 yd pass from Atkins (Goessling kick)
NAZ-Evans 6 yd run (Fischer kick)
DUKE-Elmore 40 yd pass from Atkins (Goessling kick)
DUKE-Jackson 3 yd run (Goessling kick)
NAZ-Hungerford 5 yd fumble recovery (Kick failed)
DUKE-Jackson 16 yd pass from Atkins, Ramone (Goessling kick)
NAZ-Tucker 25 yd pass from Evans (Pass failed)
DUKE-Jackson 3 yd run (Goessling kick)
DUKE-Dent Jr,. 6 yd pass from Atkins(Kick blocked)
NAZ-Northington PAT return
NAZ-Neal 19 yd pass from Evans (Kick failed)
NAZ-Tucker 2 yd run (Neal pass from Evans)
NAZ-Evans 8 yd run (Fischer kick)
West W L
WRANGLERS 11 2
Arizona 11 3
Tucson 7 6
Duke City 6 8
Vegas 5 9
San Diego 3 10
Bay Area 1 12
East W L
Frisco 12 2
Massachusetts 9 4
Quad City 8 6
Iowa 7 6
Sioux Falls 7 7
Green Bay 6 8
Bismarck 3 12
WRANGLERS 49, Duke City 41
Arizona 54, Tucson 24
San Diego 66, Bay Area 26
Quad City Steamwheelers 57, Vegas 56
Frisco 50, Green Bay 27
Iowa 49, Bismarck 30
Massachusetts 69, Sioux Falls 55