A Spear Through the Heart
Last week, I predicted the Gladiators would be victorious over the Austin Wranglers. QB Craig Whelihan seemed to have solved his problems with turnovers. The team had only nine penalties, not their lowest total of the season, but less than they had the week before in their game with Georgia.
The Gladiators led 21-13 at half time. The Wranglers battled back but the Gladiators scored a touchdown with 2:37 remaining in the game to take the lead 41-36. Las Vegas should have attempted a two-point conversion (to give them a seven point lead). Instead, their play calling fell apart. They failed to call timeout and then attempted an extra point.
When asked about the play after the game, head coach Ron James blamed the error on a variety of factors: he wanted to call timeout and then attempt a two-point conversion, the head sets stopped working and he thought they would get the ball back one more time (to try and score again). After the game, as he walked in the corridor outside the locker room, Gladiators’ owner Jim Ferraro was vocal in his criticism of the play.
Austin took advantage of the error. They took possession of the ball with 1:48 remaining in the game. Wranglers QB John Fitzgerald found Kevin Nickerson for a 14-yard completion and a touchdown with time expiring. Fitzgerald and the other Wranglers did not want to attempt the extra point. The official assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct and forced them to make an attempt. In a final act of defiance, backup QB and placeholder Tony Dodson threw the ball into the stands from scrimmage, for the extra point attempt.
The Gladiators (3-3) go on the road this week to play the Columbus Destroyers (1-4) at Nationwide Arena. Clint Dolezel, currently on injured reserve, is expected to start.