PITTSBURGH, AUG. 2 -- In Arena Football, 12 points is just an appetizer. But Pittsburgh Gladiators Coach Joe Haering saw the danger when the Denver Dynamite recovered two fumbled snaps for two touchdowns in the opening minutes of ArenaBowl '87.

"Things just got worse," Haering said. "We just didn't seem to get into gear. That happens sometimes when you go into a championship game."

The Dynamite defeated the Gladiators, 45-16, in the first championship game of the fledging Arena Football league Saturday night.

The game was the second-lowest scoring of the league's four-team, six-game season, in which games averaged 86 points but were sometimes decided by one or two.

The Gladiators didn't score until 3:43 into the fourth quarter, and by then were already 32 points behind. "To be shut out in arena ball {for three quarters} is unbelievable," Haering said.

"Not a season does a game make. I would have loved it to be a cliffhanger," said James F. Foster, founder and league president. "But it just goes to prove that it's still football."

The Dynamite and the Gladiators were 4-2 during the regular season that included the Washington Commandos and the Chicago Bruisers, both 2-4. The Gladiators defeated the Dynamite, 49-32, in Denver, and the Dynamite beat the Gladiators, 32-31, in Pittsburgh.

The championship game was held in Pittsburgh's Civic Arena because the Gladiators attracted a few hundred more spectators to their regular season home games than did the Dynamite.

The game drew 12,232 fans, short of the arena's capacity of 15,089 and only slightly better than the league's average of 11,272 per game.