Gunslingers fall to Frisco, looking ahead to road trip in New Mexico

Courtesy of San Antonio Gunslingers

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) —  If the first two games are any indication, the IFL I-35 Rivalry has a chance to be great.

The San Antonio Gunslingers took the Frisco Fighters to the limit again, but this time were unable to pull off a second straight win over their in-state rival as they fell at home to the Fighters 62-57 on Saturday night at Freeman Coliseum.

The Fighters surprised everybody by attempting on an onside kick on the opening kickoff. It was a bold decision that paid off as the Fighters recovered. T.J. Edwards scored on a quarterback keeper moments later to put the Fighters on the board. The Gunslingers responded as Sam Castronova found NyQwan Murray on a deep ball for a touchdown to tie the game at seven, and T.C. Stevens converted on the deuce to give San Antonio the lead.

The Gunslingers defense made a stop on the Fighters ensuing possession as Edwards was stopped on a quarterback run, and the Gunslingers moved the ball into the Fighters red zone to start the second quarter.

Sam Castronova found NyQuan Murray for another touchdown on the first play of the quarter to put the Gunslingers up 16-7, then a surprising turn of events took place. Edwards left the game with an arm injury, and backup quarterback Larry Harrington came into the game. He answered his call as he scored on a quarterback keeper to bring the Fighters within two. San Antonio answered as Sam Castronova found DJ Myers in the end zone to put the Gunslingers back up by nine.

Harrington led another touchdown drive, bringing the Fighters to within two again. The Gunslingers moved the ball to the Fighters red zone but faced a fourth-and-Goal. Sam Castronova was able to get out of a sack and find Austin Upshaw in the end zone for a touchdown. The Fighters lost ten yards in procedure penalties, but still scored on a Martez Carter touchdown; and with a Harrington quarterback keeper on the two-point conversion, tied the game at 29-29 at halftime.

Harrington and the Fighters picked up where they left off to start the third quarter as they found the end zone, but the Gunslingers weren’t phased as Castronova found DJ Myers on fourth-and-18 for a touchdown to tie the game right back up. However, the Fighters took back the lead as Harrington kept it himself on fourth-and-goal. The Fighters maintained that lead entering the fourth quarter.

The offenses continued to take center stage as the Gunslingers scored first in the fourth quarter as Sam Castronova scored on a quarterback keeper to tie the game, but Lionel McConnell returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to put the Fighters back on top. As they had virtually done all night, the Gunslingers answered as Castronova took it in himself for the touchdown, but the snap on the extra point was bobbled and McConnell returned it for two points. A potential tie game became a three point lead for the Fighters.

TC Stevens was able to convert on the deuce as the Gunslingers cut the deficit back to one, and it was crucial as the Fighters scored on a Harrington quarterback keeper. Castronova scored on his own quarterback keeper, but his pass on the two-point conversion was intercepted in the end zone. The Fighters recovered the onside kick, but were unable to secure the win and had to attempt a 41-yard field goal; increasing their lead to five. San Antonio had one last chance as they had the ball in Frisco territory, but Castronova’s pass was intercepted in the end zone.

Frisco improved to 5-1 on the season and into a tie with the Massachusetts Pirates atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Pirates had a bye this week. San Antonio fell to 2-4 on the season and 1-2 at home. This was the second of three match-ups between the teams this season. The Gunslingers won the first, 54-52, last week at Frisco. The teams meet back in Freeman Coliseum on June 29 for the rubber match in the season series.

The Gunslingers may have lost the game, but they showed over the last two weeks that they can compete with the best in the Eastern Conference. They are, perhaps, better than their record suggests as three of their four losses are by an average of 6.3 points. That, coupled with the fact they have played quality opponents such as the Fighters, Northern Arizona Wranglers and San Diego Strike Force, should be an indicator of how competitive the team can be.

The Gunslingers will next visit the Duke City Gladiators in Albuquerque NM on May 11 with kickoff set for 7:05PM Central. The Fighters will host the Jacksonville Sharks on May 11 for a 2:05PM Eastern kickoff.

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