Complete control

Gladiators dominate in all three phases in rout of Hurricanes

Grand Junction Gladiator linebacker Mike Bailey grins and holds the football aloft as he crosses the goal line after intercepting a two-point conversion and returning in for a score Saturday in the Gladiators’ 59-14 rout.



The Grand Junction Gladiators’ website billed it as a “Clash of the Titans,” but only one team put forth a titanic effort.

Behind a crisp offense and dominant defense, the Gladiators routed the Mile High Hurricanes, 59-14, in Saturday’s matchup of undefeated American Developmental Football League teams at Stocker Stadium.

Grand Junction’s “thunder and lightning” rushing attack produced big numbers, with Kris Means and Anthony Kemper racking up a collective 226 yards and four touchdowns.

“Thunder and Lightning, that’s what we’re known as,” said the speedy Kemper, aka Lightning. “It’s definitely nice. He’s more of a power runner and I’m finesse. It’s nice to get a break, you know, and stay refreshed when he gets in for a little bit. That’s why I like the combination.”

Kemper, who is listed at 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, finished with 122 yards and two scores and the 6-2, 235-pound Means ended his night with 104 yards and two touchdowns.

Quarterback Dustin Benton finished with 138 yard and two scores on 9-of-14 passing and Jimmie Darrera and Jared Fraser caught long touchdown passes in what Gladiators head coach Matt Surad termed a “complete game.”

“We had no turnovers on offense and our defense was creating turnovers,” he said. “Special teams was holding them. It was a complete game. It was fun tonight.”

Jesse Kirstatter returned a punt 62 yards for a score on special teams. On defense, Grand Junction racked up three fumble recoveries, an interception by Mitch Howard and a safety. The Gladiators even picked up two points on a Hurricanes’ two-point conversion try when Mike Bailey picked off a pass in the end zone and returned it the distance for two points.

“Our defense is the best in the league, I think,” Kemper proclaimed.

With Saturday night’s win, the defending league champion Gladiators claimed sole possession of first place. Both Mile High, which is based out of Denver, and Grand Junction entered the night with 4-0 records.

A rematch is slated for Saturday in Denver.


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