Amarillo, T.X. – The Duke City Gladiators made an incredible season run by defeating three number one teams in a row to get into the playoffs, but ended in the first round against the Amarillo Venom by a score of 70-41.
It was an amazing season for the Gladiators as they made franchise history by setting foot into the playoffs for the first time in the 3 years the organization has been in operation.
Saturday night’s game against the Venom was a hard fought game in which Duke City had a hard time finding favor with the referees. Multiple questionable calls made things quite difficult for a visiting team that played a fair game.
The Amarillo Civic Center was loud with a fairly large group of Gladiator fans that made the trek to cheer on their hometown team. The Gladiator “Fan Bus” brought over 50 fans along with multiple groups driving in on their own.
The first quarter was a slow start for the Gladiators as Amarillo put up 17 points to Duke City’s 6. The Gladiator’s six points came off a 7 yard touchdown rush by RB Antonio Bray and a missed PAT by K Brian Weems.
It was a struggle for QB Donovan Porterie as a thumb injury early on in the first quarter affected his performance throughout the entire game.
It seemed as if the 2nd quarter wasn’t any different from the first as the Venom had the momentum going their way. This was the case until a big boy touchdown by RB Christopher Smalls cut the Venom lead down to 24-13. The Venom would tack on another 15 points to end the 1st half.
The pendulum looked as if it was swinging in favor of the Gladiators as they made big strides to add another 7 to the scoreboard when Porterie found WR Sedrick Johnson for a quick 8 yard dart to bring things closer. The Duke City defense manhandled the Venom on the following drive which forced a fumble and a recovery by the Gladiators.
Porterie capitalized on the fumble recovery and quickly tossed a long 43 yard bomb to Bray for a touchdown. The Gladiators crept closer to the Venom as the score was 39-26. To further the momentum, Duke City attempted an onside kick and couldn’t recover. This would give the Venom an opportunity to score and add 21 points.
As the 4th quarter began, hope was still with the mighty men of Duke City as a strong drive and touchdown rush by Bray inched closer to the Venom as Christopher Smalls would then pick up the 2 point conversion.
It would be a tough time for the Gladiators to regain traction as the officiating continued to deteriorate with bad calls against the visiting team. These calls would end up allowing Amarillo to score 10 more points. Duke City wouldn’t go down without fighting as a huge missile from Porterie zeroed in on Bray for 45 yards and points on the board. The clock would expire with a final score of 70-41 and the Gladiator season would end.
Porterie completed 16 of 37 passes, 226 yards, 3 TD passes and 2 interceptions. Antonio Bray had a strong night with 4 total touchdowns, 2 rushing and 2 receiving. On defense, DL Brett Bowers made plays that included a huge sack for a loss of 10 yards along with his 5 total tackles and 1 tackle for loss.
Head Coach Dominic Bramante expressed how proud he was with his team, “I’m so proud of these mighty men of Duke City! They have proven that they are the real superstars of the league (CIF) and beyond. I’m beyond honored to be their coach this season.”
Bramante also explained that this season is only the beginning of a “power house that the rest of the league needs to be worried about.”
A real tradition has been created in the “Duke City” as fans, the community, and the state have now truly embraced the Gladiators as a fabric in the community.
Duke City has completed the 2017 season with a final record of 7-6. The spectacular run made by the Gladiators has created excitement with fans for the 2018 season! Fans can reserve their 2018 season tickets now by calling 505-226-8006.