For one of the few times this season, the Gladiators were competitive, trading scores Sunday with the Los Angeles Avengers.
But then — typical of a struggling team — Las Vegas messed it up.
Gladiators quarterback Brian Jones fumbled near the Avengers’ goal line, and Los Angeles turned the turnover into a touchdown eight seconds before halftime to take control in its 59-37 victory before an announced crowd of 5,698 at the Orleans Arena.
"I was about to extend (the ball) over the goal line and got popped in the back," said Jones, who passed for 300 yards and three touchdowns but was sacked four times. "That’s what’s happening right now with all of us. We’re overextending ourselves instead of just playing."
The Gladiators (1-9), who play at San Jose on Saturday, have lost eight consecutive games and are guaranteed a losing record for the second straight year.
Of course, that seemed inevitable. Whether they win another game or not is the question.
"I think more than anything, though, we’ve all played hard throughout the season," said Gladiators receiver Thabiti Davis, who caught 13 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. "We’re going to continue to play hard.
"When we come out on the other end, whether it’s the last four or five or six games of the season or it’s next year, this is the time that we’re all in a building mode for the most part."
While it is difficult to fault the Gladiators’ effort, the bickering among defensive backs is a problem. They often exchange words after opponents’ touchdowns, and there went plenty of those Sunday with Avengers quarterback Sonny Cumbie throwing six TD passes.
"Neither one of them want to take the blame, and I don’t know till I see the call sheet and watch the film," Las Vegas coach Danton Barto said. "The finger-pointing thing to me is ridiculous. Just point the finger at yourself and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to make the play’ and play hard. But that’s what happens when teams are struggling. Guys get frustrated."
This game against Los Angeles (5-4) started promising for the Gladiators, who went up 17-13 with 9:27 left in the second quarter.
Los Angeles went ahead 19-17 before the Gladiators drove back down the field. However, Lonnie Ford forced a Jones fumble near the goal line with 41 seconds left, and Silas Demary recovered for the Avengers.
Los Angeles capitalized with Ford’s 1-yard touchdown run to take a 26-17 lead.
Because the Avengers received the second-half kickoff, it was an especially big blow for the Gladiators. Los Angeles scored to open the second half, taking a 33-17 lead.
• NOTE — Fullback/linebacker Marlion Jackson might return to the Gladiators this week after being cut by the Atlanta Falcons.Las VegasGladiators
LOS ANGELES — 59 LAS VEGAS — 37 KEY: Sonny Cumbie passed for 293 yards and six touchdowns for the Avengers. NEXT: Gladiators at San Jose SaberCats, 7:30 p.m. Saturday