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Gladiators travel to meet Twin City in playoffs

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THOMAS J. MILLER
August 26, 2011

The Rock County Gladiators know the way to Normal, Ill., and George B. Ferree Field.


Just two weeks ago, the Gladiators traveled the 150 miles to play the Twin City Dawgs with first place in the Central Division of the Gateway Conference and a higher playoff seed on the line.


Twin City avenged its only loss of the season when it defeated Rock County, 28-14.


The loss is the reason Rock County has to travel to Normal, instead of having a home game against the Dawgs in this weekend’s second round of the Great Midwest Football League playoffs.


The loss against Twin City, the only one Gladiators have suffered in the past nine games, did not shake the team’s confidence. Rock County (8-3) rebounded and defeated Gateway, 26-20, in overtime in the first round of the playoffs last Saturday.


“We’re going to win the next game,” coach Ralph Uhe said before a team practice Wednesday. “We just have to figure out a way to do it.”


Rock County defeated the Dawgs, 42-27 on June 25 at Milton High School behind Danny Roberts’ three touchdown passes and a 161-yard rushing attack.


The Dawgs (10-1) increased the size of their interior line with new players, and ran off to a 21-0 second-half lead in the rematch two weeks ago.


The Gladiators rallied to within 21-14 with 2:12 left in the game. The Dawgs grabbed the onside kick and returned it to the Rock County 20 to set up the insurance touchdown.


“We didn’t get the run stopped as efficiently as we did the first game,” Uhe said.


In addition, the revised Dawgs lineup created a different look that what the Gladiators encountered at Milton.


“They added three interior linemen that were 100 pounds heavier than what they had,” Uhe said.


The home-field advantage that the Dawgs had two weeks ago also won’t be as much of a factor, the head coach said.


“When you play there a second time, that goes away,” Uhe said.


The winner of Saturday’s 8 p.m. game will play the winner of the Beloit Titans (6-4-1) at Warren County Cyclones (10-1) semifinal matchup in the Gateway Conference championship game next Saturday.


The league championship is the next weekend.


“My intention is to play three more games,” Uhe said.



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