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Gladiators' Fast Start Gives Voodoo First Loss

NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Voodoo went into Saturday night looking to take their first division lead since the late 2000’s, but the Cleveland Gladiators came in with a dynamic offensive attack that New Orleans wasn’t prepared for. 

Cleveland jumped to a quick 14-0 lead after Voodoo QB Adam Kennedy threw a pick six to Joe Phinisee that essentially never gave New Orleans a chance to put themselves in a position to remain undefeated. 

“Its disappointing because we always want to win,” Voodoo WR Larry Beavers said postgame at Smoothie King Center. “You know we kinda used the Jacksonville game as motivation for this one but we slipped up on this one.” 

Just before halftime New Orleans’ Tracy Belton picked off Gladiators QB Shane Austin that gave them momentum, but the Voodoo turned it over two plays later and the Gladiators exploited that opportunity to lead 42-28 at the half.

Despite the loss, there are some positives to take out of this. New Orleans receiver Larry Beavers tied a franchise record with a 58 yard kick return for a touchdown but it was not enough to defeat the reigning American Conference champions. 

New Orleans is back in action Saturday night at home against the Orlando Predators at 7pm.

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Dominick Goodman matched a career-high with five touchdown receptions and Shane Austin totaled eight scores as theCleveland Gladiators (2-0) pulled away from the New Orleans VooDoo (1-1) in the second half on Saturday night by a final score of 70-42.

The Gladiators also got scores from wide receivers Amarri Jackson andCollin Taylor, as well as fullback Jeramie Richardson. Jack linebacker Joe Phinisee, who earned Riddell Defensive Player of the Week honors in Week 1, also recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown in the game.

Cleveland got on the board first when Shane Austin hooked up with Dominick Goodman on their first drive for a nine-yard score. The Gladiators quickly followed that up with a defensive touchdown as Phinisee picked off an Adam Kennedy pass at the three-yard line and walked into the end zone for the quick two-touchdown lead with 10:29 remaining in the first quarter.

New Orleans answered with their first score when Kennedy found wide receiver Marcus Smith on a four-play drive to pull within seven points with 7:20 left in the opening quarter. At the 2:33 mark, Austin found Goodman once again from five yards out to push the Gladiators led back up to two scores, 21-7. The VooDoo responded once again when wide receiver Chris Duvalt hauled in a seven-yard touchdown with 50 seconds left to pull New Orleans within a touchdown once again at 21-14.

In the second quarter, Shane Austin took things into his own hands, scoring from one-yard out on a keeper to push the Gladiator lead back up to 28-14 with 11:30 remaining in the half. With 6:17 remaining, Kennedy closed the gap once again, as he completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Smith, his second receiving touchdown of the night. On the following drive, wide receiver Amarri Jackson found his way into the end zone for the first time, hauling in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Austin to make it 35-21. The touchdown pass was Austin’s fourth of the night.

However, wide receiver Larry Beavers returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards for a VooDoo score, making the score 35-28 with 3:25 left in the half. After Shane Austin was intercepted on a fourth down play, the VooDoo drove down the field only for quarterback Adam Kennedy to give the ball right back as he fumbled after being blindsided by defensive lineman Anthony Degrate. Jack linebacker Joe Phiniseepounced on the turnover for his third fumble recovery of the year. The next play, Austin hooked up with Goodman for the third time on the night for a 14-yard touchdown to put Cleveland back up by two touchdowns, 42-28 at the half.

New Orleans started the scoring in the second half as the VooDoo offense worked its way down the field and quarterback Adam Kennedy scored on a sneak from one yard out to make the score 42-35. The theme of the night continued as the Gladiators answered quickly and moved down field for another score when Austin completed a nine yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Collin Taylor to put Cleveland back on top by two touchdowns. New kicker Adrian Trevino’s extra point made the score 49-35 with 4:52 remaining in the third quarter.

After a key defensive stop, Austin and Goodman hooked up for the fourth time on the night with a 20 yard touchdown to put the Gladiators up by three touchdowns, 56-35, with 1:15 remaining in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, former Gladiator wide receiver Carlese Franklin scored on a two-yard run for the VooDoo to make the score 56-42, but the Gladiator offense returned the favor with a seven play drive capped off by a three yard touchdown run by fullback Jeramie Richardson, to make the score 63-42 with 8:46 left in the game. The Gladiators put an exclamation point when Austin found Goodman in the end zone for the fifth time on the night, an 11-yard score to put the game out of reach for good, 70-42 to cap off the scoring for the night.

Media Awards
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – QB Shane Austin (CLE) 21/31, 272 yds, 7 TDs
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – DB Joe Phinisee (CLE) INT, Fumble Rec, 6 tackles
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game – WR Marcus Smith (NOV) 8 Rec, 131 yds, 2 TDs
Cutters Catch of the Game – Marcus Smith catch on the wall, 1st Quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game – Phinisee Pick-Six, 1st Quarter

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