In what can be viewed as the first true meaningful game in the first season for Vegas Knight Hawks, they stumbled once again on their home turf.
Vegas was crushed, 47-21, by the Duke City Gladiators from the Dollar Loan Center Arena Saturday, May 21.
“It kind of snowballed on us,” head coach Mike Davis said. “They kick the first kickoff and it hits our guy, they recover it and go down and score. Then we come back and fumble the ball and then they score so we’re down 14-0. Then we threw an interception – I mean, it snowballed on us before we could ever catch our breath.”
Coming into the contest, the Knight Hawks (4-5) sat in fourth place in the Western Conference while the Gladiators were one spot behind with a (3-5).
The top eight teams make the playoffs in the IFL.
“We didn’t warm up well,” Davis said. “I was like, ‘Guys, something’s off. Like I don’t know what it is.’ And they tried to say, ‘Coach, we’re focused.’ But it wasn’t there.
“This team is a music-bumping, laid-back, okay we’re going to get the job done [group]. I walked in there before pregame and it was dead-silent.” Prior to this loss, Vegas had won two of its last three games. Both wins came on the road as the Knight Hawks are now 1-4 at home with three more games from the Dollar Loan Center Arena left on the schedule.
“We do some good things,” Davis said. “But we just can’t seem to get the ball rolling in the right direction. We haven’t had the ball bounce our way yet this year.”
Overall, Vegas is 4-6 and will head back to the road for a contest against the 7-2 Frisco Fighters Saturday, May 28.
The Fighters just beat the league’s best team record-wise, the Arizona Rattlers, by three points. Arizona beat Vegas by 47 points.
“It’s just like any other game,” quarterback Jerod Evans said. “When you win a game – like San Diego, we beat them. You have to come back next week and it’s a clean slate. That next day, that next week, that next game, you have to try and go 1-0.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.
It started going downhill fast for Vegas against Duke City as the Knight Hawks had the game’s opening kickoff deflect off linebacker Gabe McCoy.
The Gladiators recovered the ball and would go up a touchdown before the VKH offense could touch the ball.
Once it did, Evans was nearly picked on the second play from scrimmage.
Two of the last three weeks, Evans was recognized as the league’s Offensive Player of the Week.
“Man, they can have those awards,” Davis said. “Because we play [badly] afterwards. For us, it just snowballed on us. I don’t think they did anything that we weren’t prepared for, we just didn’t execute.”
Evans would be picked off in the first quarter, one of his two turnovers in the first 15 minutes of play.
That first quarter interception came on a 3rd and 13 and was returned for a touchdown to set up a 14-0 deficit for the home team.
Evans would be picked off again in the fourth quarter.
The second turnover in the first quarter came on a fumble from Evans on 2nd and 6.
In the second quarter, Evans was sacked in the end zone for a Duke City safety. At that point, Vegas fell behind 30-0.
The Knight Hawk offensive line gave up five sacks on the night, Evans took four of them.
He did find the end zone twice on the night, once through the air and once on the ground.
Evans fired a touchdown strike to wide receiver and Las Vegas native Kasey Allison for the first Vegas touchdown of the night with two seconds left in the first half.
His touchdown run came in the third quarter before he was lifted from the game in favor of backup quarterback Cameron Dukes.
Evans threw for 44 yards on 9-of-18 passing with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also tallied 38 yards on six carries and a touchdown.
Dukes also threw a touchdown and went 4-for-6 with 32 yards in his limited action.
In this one, the Knight Hawks just couldn’t get things to go their way starting with a failed challenge on the Gladiators’ first score of the game.
In addition, the team had two touchdowns taken off the board both of which belonged to wide receiver Jordan McCray.
“It’s us,” Evans said. “We have to just find out how to come together and stop being mental midgets in certain situations throughout the course of a game. You have ups and downs throughout a game, that’s a football game.”
The first overturned touchdown came in the first quarter as a 43-yard scoring reception was taken off after McCray was called for a false start.
In the third quarter, he had a 10-yard touchdown catch wiped off after an illegal formation penalty.
Even the fans got in on the action as a front-row spectator was whistled for interfering on a Duke City kick return catch in the end zone.
That drive would end with a touchdown after a re-kick was shanked, setting the road team up near midfield.
Vegas’ largest deficit of the night was 33 points.