A tie was the only fitting result as the Sudbury Gladiators and Toronto Jr. Argonauts staged a wild final minute of play Sunday evening in the GTA.
A contest that already featured a number of swings in momentum saw the combatants deadlocked at 24-24 with just 60 seconds remaining in the game.
The homeside appeared to seal the win, striking paydirt with only 50 seconds showing on the game clock. But an impressive kickoff return from Sudbury's Devyn Chenier, combined with a 35-yard pass from Hunter Holub to Chenier gave the Gladiators first and goal from the three, with 10 seconds to play.
As time expired, Holub found Josh Walker on the end of a three-yard pass, leaving the score sitting at 31-30 Toronto, with Sudbury coach Reg Bonin and company pondering a two-point conversion.
"We were all set to go for the win, but we were called for procedure," explained Bonin.
Backed up another five yards, the Gladiators figured they had better get out of Dodge with at least a point, a goal that was accomplished as Aaron Campbell split the uprights.
Coming off a thorough beating at the hands of Hamilton last week and trailing 14-0 early in Toronto, the Gladiators showed encouraging signs of pushback, according to Bonin, who was particularly pleased to see his offence get untracked.
"We worked a lot all week with our offensive line, on pass protection, and on having more of a push on our running game," explained Bonin. "We needed them to give us a chance to spread teams up, and they came through."
While the Sudbury defence was torched for a couple of big plays, Bonin was quick to tip his hat to a quality opponent.
"We held that team to their lowest output all season," he said. "With the exception of a couple of big plays, I thought our defence did a really good job."
The Gladiators' remaining majors came courtesy of Holub, Chenier and Austin Kirkey, with Campbell adding four converts and a field goal. The local OFC team is back on the road this coming weekend, taking their 3-1 record into a matchup with the Peterborough Wolverines, a team sporting the identical mark.
"This is a pretty significant game as far as playoff positions are concerned," noted Bonin. "Defensively, they are quite strong, and very aggressive."
The Gladiators are back at home on Saturday, June 28, facing the Huronia Stallions.