Gladiators top Predatorz on scorching day at Stocker Stadium

Grand Junction Gladiators running back Nate Coca rushes for a long gain on Saturday during the first half of the Gladiators’ 23-0 win on a scorching day at Stocker Stadium.

With two and a half minutes left in the first quarter of Saturday’s 23-0 win against the Mile High Predatorz at Stocker Stadium, Grand Junction Gladiators safety Adam Swanson saw an opportunity.

With the Predatorz on their own 8-yard-line, quarterback Nate Austin threw a pass six yards to the right side, where Swanson happened to be playing. Swanson grabbed the ball at the 14-yard-line and ran it back for the Gladiators’ first touchdown of the day.

“I didn’t think I’d broken on the ball early enough,” Swanson said. “I stuck my head down, tipped it to myself and there was nobody in front of me. I made a move on one guy and there was the end zone.”

The win was the third straight for the semi-pro Gladiators, who are 3-1 overall.

In Saturday’s win, the Gladiators struggled offensively, but were held together by a solid defensive that notched five interceptions against the pass-heavy Predatorz.

Of the five, two were returned for touchdowns, including one by Lucas Wiggins on the drive following Swanson’s touchdown.

It was the second shutout of the season for the team, which also scored a safety Saturday and has only allowed one touchdown in its last three games.

Coach Will Jones said the defense’s success is largely because of a good chemistry amongst the players.

“They play together,” Jones said. “There’s no individual player.”

Swanson said it’s also a matter of work ethic off the field.

“We always think we can put some more work in and we always think we can do better,” he said.

But even Saturday, the defense struggled at times against speedy receivers who were only able to catch six of 33 passes from two quarterbacks.

“There was a couple of times they got behind us but they didn’t end up making the catch, so we got lucky,” Swanson said.


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