LED by state representative Don Veale, the undermanned Gippsland Gladiators pulled off a gutsy 14-0 win against the Croydon Stars on Saturday, in division two of the Gridiron Victoria competition.
Several players were missing through injury, including running back Ben Lindsay and wide receiver Leigh Gouley, whose absence allowed rookies Paul Ballinger and Riley Legg to step up into those roles.
The Gladiators managed to score at the end of the first quarter with an attacking run by Scott Stuckey, but it was flagged back on an infringement by the offence.
The rest of the half was a back and forth tussle, until a 20-yard touchdown run by full back Veale ended the stalemate.
The half ended with a 6-0 lead to the Gladiators.
Coach Paul Tindall and the sidelined Lindsay fired the team up at half time which motivated the team to come out hard, driving the Stars back towards their end zone.
The offensive-linemen held strong even after losing both guards to injury, and allowed quarterback Hugh Buchanan time to find Veale for his second touchdown of the day.
A two-point conversion pass to Michael Radovich gave Buchanan three touchdown passes for the day, and six for the season so far.
The Stars made several gallant attempts to score late in the forth quarter but to no avail, and the Gladiators ran out the clock to win 14-0.
Next week the Gladiators will host Gridiron Victoria division one team, the Berwick Miners, that won narrowly 20-19 when the teams met last season.
The game will be held at Maryvale Recreation Reserve, Morwell from 1.30 pm.