by Robyn Rohde
Quarterbacks beware, Josh Gatlin can read you.
Gatlin intercepted a deep pass and took it to the end zone to jumpstart the Fargo Invaders on their way to a 45-7 win over the Minnesota Brawlers in Northern Elite Football League action last Saturday. The 79-yard interception return for the touchdown was the third time this season the former North Dakota State University player has achieved the pick six.
“He is a good football player; a good practice player; a good teammate to have on our team,” Head Coach Brent Lundgren said. “He’s a great asset to have on the team.”
Gatlin wasn’t the only Invader with sticky fingers last week as the defense scored three times in the victory. Brandon Sloan grabbed the interception and returned it 33 yards for the touchdown in the second quarter and Jamus Neal had the grab and dash for a 54-yard interception return late in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense has always been very good and one of the goals I have for them is to have at least one pick six a game because it takes some of the pressure off our offense,” Lundgren said. “When we got three it just helped everyone to relax.”
The Brawlers defense also earned points when they recovered a fumble following a sack on Invader Jay Greenhill. David Smith scooped up the loose ball and went the final 16 yards to put Minnesota on the board.
“Jay can be a pretty decent quarterback as far as scrambling and on the run so we tried to put him in there mostly for his legs, change it up and get things happening,” Lundgren said. “A lot of the stuff we are trying to do isn’t necessarily for one game but preparation for trying to win a championship.”
The two interception touchdowns and a 25-yard field goal by Lezan Tahir put Fargo up 17-0 at halftime. Then the Invader offense took over scoring 28 straight points. Quarterback Trevor Taylor connected with Jon Baune twice in the third quarter, one score from 6 yards out and another 54-yard bomb, to go up 31-7.
Running back Brandon Jones opened the fourth quarter charging into the end zone on a 2-yard carry. Jones earned 61 of the Invaders 197 yards rushing in the game.
“We probably could have run the ball a little bit more and had a little more success,” Lundgren said.
Moving to 4-1 in NEFL action, the Invaders are back home at Sid Cichy Stadium at Shanley High School this week to host the Battle Creek Sting, 6 p.m. Saturday. The Invaders handed the Sting a 29-6 loss earlier this season.