Photo: 22 Israel Tucker scored three touchdowns for the Wranglers
A last second touchdown by the Duke City Gladiators was good enough to beat the Northern Arizona Wranglers 39-32, in Albuquerque last night. The game was marred by mistakes and missed opportunities, especially for Northern Arizona.
The game did not mean much other than the good feeling of going into the playoffs on a winning note, as the playoff matchups were already a done deal. Both teams used their benches in order to limit the injury risks in a non meaningful game.
Northern Arizona looked good at the start, moving the ball, but an opening drive mishap turned the ball over inside the Gladiator five, as Barker’s pitch to Tucker was a tad behind him. The Northern Arizona defense stood tall early as Duke City failed to move the ball at all. The Wranglers did not do much with their second possession, but Duke City did as Kevin Goessling split the uprights on a 46 yard kick with under a minute to play in the first quarter.
The Wranglers were able to take the lead on Israel Tucker’s first rushing touchdown of the night. Duke City went up 10-7 on a one yard pass reception by Jared Elmore. Tucker scored a second time as the Wranglers led 14-10 with four minutes left in the first half.
Kilgo threw his second touchdown pass to Ronald Tyler with :32 on the clock. Duke City was denied the lead though, as Marquis Bridges took the blocked extra point attempt the distance to tie the game at 16.
A Barker pass to the end zone was picked off by Roderic Chapman with :12 left, giving the ball back to Duke City. The Gladiators were able to capitalize, taking the lead on a 49 yard field goal by Goessling to lead 19-16 at the break.
Wrangler QB Kaleb Barker gave way to recently acquired backup Tahj Tolbert, who went 5-9, for 18 yards. Barker’s first half numbers were 6-12, 37 yards and one interception. The QB numbers were quite unusual for an IFL game as not one TD pass was thrown by Northern Arizona, and a pair of sacks left the passing yardage at just 38 total yards for the entire game. Gladiator backup Javin Kilgo threw a pair, going 10-19 113 yards, and one INT.
The second half the Gladiators had a chance to build on their three point lead, but QB whiffed on a pass and Ulric Jones caught the wounded duck returning it to inside the Duke City five.
After an unsportsmanlike penalty placed the ball at the Duke City one, the Wranglers decided to pass the ball and a sack made it second and goal at the seven. The following play was even worse as QB was stripped and the ball went the other way. Gibbons ran down the culprit, but it was only a temporary stop, as the Gladiators scored on the very next play to regain the lead 26-23.
Tucker took the ensuing kickoff to the house going 46 yards, as the Wranglers got the lead right back 30-26 towards he end of the third quarter.
Tramond Lofton sacked Kilgo on the first play of the final quarter in the end zone for a safety. The Wranglers got the ball back leading 32-26. The drive stalled and a missed field goal gave Duke City the ball trailing by just six. Trae Meadows led the defense with six tackles.
Later in the quarter, the Wranglers failed to move the ball out of the shadow of their own end zone and decided to try a field goal. The 50 yard attempt was partially blocked, going straight into the arms of Eriq Swiftwater, who promptly returned it 15 yards for the game tying touchdown. The extra point was not even close so the game remained tied with 4:38 left.
Another blocked field goal by the Gladiators gave them the ball with 1:30 left. Duke City used the clock wisely, picking up a crucial first down, and scoring on a back shoulder catch by Ronald Tyler on a pass from Kilgo with just ticks remaining.
Israel Tucker was the Wrangler star of the night scoring three touchdowns, giving him 12 on the season. He finished with 38 yards on eight carries, and a pair of catches for 8 yards, and 117 yards on kickoff returns. Barker rushed for 39 in the first half. Glen Gibbons led receiving with 22 yards on three catches.
Despite the loss, the Wranglers finish in second place, and will host the Tucson Sugar Skulls on Saturday at 6:05 pm.
DUKE CITY GLADIATORS 39, NORTHERN ARIZONA WRANGLERS 32
Score by Quarters- 1 2 3 4 – T
- Arizona Wranglers 0 16 14 2 – 32
Duke City Gladiators 3 16 7 13 – 39
DUKE-Goessling 46 yard Field Goal
NAZ-Tucker 7 yard run (Trevino kick)
DUKE-Elmore 1 yard run (Goessling kick)
NAZ-Tucker 2 yard run (Trevino kick)
DUKE-Tyler 11 yard pass from Kilgo (Kick blocked)
NAZ-Bridges 48 yard PAT return
DUKE-Goessling 49 yard Field Goal
NAZ-Gibbon 1 yard run (Trevino kick)
DUKE-Kilgo 10 yard run (Goessling kick)
NAZ-Tucker 47 yard kickoff return (Trevino kick)
NAZ-Lofton tackled Kilgo in end zone (Safety)
DUKE-Swiftwater 12 yard return of blocked kick (Kick failed)
DUKE-Tyler 12 yard pass from Kilgo (Goessling kick)
West W L__
Arizona 13 3
WRANGLERS 12 4
Tucson 9 7
Duke City 8 8
Vegas 6 10
San Diego 3 13
Bay Area 1 15
East W L __
Frisco 14 2
Massachusetts 11 5
Quad City 9 7
Iowa 9 7
Sioux Falls 8 8
Green Bay 6 10
Bismarck 3 13
Duke City 39, WRANGLERS 32
Tucson 50, Bay Area 41
Frisco 35, Sioux Falls 28
Massachusetts 60, San Diego 17
Quad City 42, Iowa 35
(End of Regular Season)
PLAYOFF MATCHUPS – (Arizona Time)
Quad City at Massachusetts, Friday, 4:05pm
Iowa at Frisco, Friday, 5:05pm
Tucson at WRANGLERS, Saturday, 6:05pm
Duke City at Arizona, Sunday, 3:05pm
SEMIFINALS- July 30, 31 -TBA
Saturday, August 13 at 3:05pm