May 27, 2024

Law forfeits two wins; backs into playoffs with loss to Duke City


Game Stats

Scoring Summary

DC Law Offense

DC Law Defense

Duke City Offense

Duke City Defense

Listen to the complete game in our archives section

Albuquerque, NM-Saturday, June 3 will go down as a day everything changed in the Champions Indoor Football League.

Dodge City became the first team in league history to forfeit two wins because of league rules’ violations pertaining to uploading video. In essence, the Law went from the No. 1 seed in the south and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs to backing their way in.

Donovan Porterie threw four touchdown passes, and Dodge City tied a season-high with five turnovers as Duke City ripped through the Law 43-22 at Tingley Coliseum. The win secured the Gladiators first postseason berth in franchise history, while the Law clinched the No. 3 seed and will open at Texas on Saturday.

“It is what is what it is, and I take full responsibility for what happened,” Dodge City Coach Sean Ponder said. “It was a video violation, and I apologize to our fans. We played pretty well tonight, but mistakes killed us.”

Despite an adversity-filled week, the Law responded well on their opening drive. A 10-play, 45-yard march yielded Rudy Johnson’s six-yard scoring toss to Brandon Venson that gave Dodge City a 7-0 lead. It was a monumental grind from there.

Antonio Bray’s 26-yard kickoff return followed by Porterie’s 21-yard touchdown pass to Julian Walker tied the score. From there, a multitude of mistakes crippled Dodge City’s attack.

On the Law’s ensuing possession, Johnson was intercepted in the end zone by Ray Little. And even though Duke City (7-5) failed to capitalize when they did not convert on a fourth down in Dodge City (7-5) territory, the pendulum had swung.

“You can’t play the way we did, on the road, and expect to win a game,” Ponder admitted.

When the Law got the football back, Johnson got a rude awakening. Ayoub Hamidah stripped sacked the rookie quarterback; Jayson Serda scooped up the loose ball and returned it 15 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Brian Weems’ extra point bounced off of the right upright, and the Gladiators had a 13-7 advantage with 7:08 to play in the first half.

“Credit Duke City because they kept coming after us,” Ponder said.

But one play defined the entire game, and it came on special teams’ right before the half.

The teams had exchanged blows to that point, with Dodge City scoring on DJ Abnor’s two-yard plunge and Weems giving the Gladiators the lead back 16-14 with a season-long 33-yard field goal. But it was the Law that had the chance for the last laugh. Unfortunately the only ones giggling were the Duke City faithful.

Rashad Pargo’s spectacular, levitating leap that resulted in a 21-yard completion put Dodge City in position to kick a field goal and take the lead into the locker room. But Jared Wood’s 28-yard kick never had a chance. Brett Bowers devoured it, and Ray Berry picked up the ball and scooted 25 yards for a backbreaking touchdown, giving Duke City a 23-14 halftime lead.

“There is no question in my mind that that one play changed the entire complexity of the game,” Ponder said. “It was a totally different game from there.”

As for the second half, it was a microcosm of the entire night.

Duke City extended their lead on the first possession of the third quarter when Porterie found Dexter Manley for a 19-yard touchdown and a 30-14 cushion.

As Dodge City looked to counter, another crippling mistake rendered their ensuing drive useless. On second-and-2 from the Duke City 20, Johnson rolled to the right. As he planted, Serda grabbed him around the ankles, forcing an errant throw back across his body that bounced off of the fingertips of wide receiver Daniel McKinney and was intercepted by Darrain Winston.

“Rudy did not play his best game, but there were definitely some tipped balls and some drops,” Ponder said. “We have to clean that up.”

Duke City answered again, driving 42 yard in five plays. The capper: Porterie’s nine-yard touchdown pass to Sedrick Johnson that made it 37-14 with 4:24 to go in the third.

Dodge City still had their chances to get back in the game. Johnson found Venson for a six-yard score on the Law’s next possession before the rookie signal caller hit Abnor in the end zone for the two-point conversion that trimmed the Gladiators lead to 37-22.

Then the Gladiators left the door wide open when Weems missed a 24-yard field goal early in the final period. The Law responded with a 13-play drive that moved the ball from the 5 to the Gladiators 4. But on fourth-and goal from the 4, Johnson rolled left and located Venson in the back-left corner of the end zone. Venson bobbled it, and Little picked off the pass on the ricochet, ending the drive, and putting a proverbial dagger into the Law.

“Those tipped balls were killers,” Ponder said.

Duke City finished off the Law minutes later when Porterie threw his fourth touchdown pass of the night: a seven-yard screen pass to Bray.

Porterie finished the night 24-of-37 for 200 yards and four scores for Duke City, who won their third straight game. Antonio Bray had six catches for 27 yards and a touchdown and Little recorded two interceptions.

Johnson was 19-of-33 for 199 yards, two touchdowns and four picks. It was the second time this season that he threw three or more interceptions. Venson caught six balls for 58 yards and two scores.

Next up: Dodge City at Texas-Saturday, June 10-6:30 p.m. pregame; 7:05 p.m. kick on 98.1 FM: and KSKZ mobile app