Gladiators blank Rocky Mountain Renegades
Grand Junction Gladitors running back Victor Cachuela didn’t have much time to prepare for his role as the starter in Saturday’s 28-0 win against the Castle Rock-based Rocky Mountain Renegades at Stocker Stadium.
During the week, starting running back Nate Coca injured his groin during practice, and Cachuela was given only one day’s notice that he would be filling the starting slot, but he made the most of it — rushing for 81 yards in 16 carries.
“I did what I had to do — ran the ball, held on to it and followed my blockers,” Cachuela said.
In Saturday’s home opener for the semi-pro team, there was no shortage of offense as the Gladiators used multiple running backs and timely passes to pick apart the defense, while maintaining strong position in their own defensive territory.
“There was a sense of togetherness, which we didn’t have last week,” coach Will Jones said.
Offensively, the Gladiators were able to use multiple running backs with diverse styles.
Cachuela brought a quickness the defense struggled with and Adam Burke provided the powerhouse run game that pushed the ball in for the first of three touchdowns in the second quarter.
On the Renegades’ ensuing possession, safety Adam Swanson caught an interception at the Gladiators’ 20-yard line, which started another scoring drive for his team.
In the final three and a half minutes of the half, the Gladiators had two drives that moved the ball up with runs, but finished with quarterback Mike Christianson.
After the ball had moved to the 30 yard line in the drive after the interception, Christianson threw a 30-yard pass to Scott Lawrence.
When the Gladiators got the ball back again with 57 seconds, Christianson threw a short pass, then had a 20-yard run to the 25-yard line before he threw to Kevin Brunn to take a 21-0 lead with nine seconds left in the half.
Christianson threw another touchdown to Lawrence in the fourther quarter and said although the defense is generally run-first, the team isn’t afraid to use his arm.
“When the opportunity arises, we’re not going to shy away from throwing the ball because we have great receivers,” Christianson said. “They’re going to make plays, all you have to do is give them a chance.”