Cleveland Gladiators Press Release
CLEVELAND — The Tampa Bay Storm (6-6) defeated the Cleveland Gladiators (7-6) by a score of 52-48 at Quicken Loans Arena this Friday night. The Storm won the game on a Julius Gregory touchdown reception with 0:03 left in regulation. Tampa Bay is now in sole possession of second place in the South Division.
Neither team was able to score on its first possession before Tampa Bay struck first with a five-yard touchdown pass from Jason Boltus to Gregory with 2:46 remaining in the opening quarter. Gregory’s first receiving touchdown of the game led to Tampa Bay taking a 7-0 lead, and the points were the only ones registered in the opening frame before the two teams combined for 38 second quarter points.
Tampa Bay took a 14-0 lead after a 42-yard touchdown pass from Boltus to Kendrick Ings with 11:31 left in the second quarter before the Gladiators mustered their first of three second quarter touchdowns. Austin found Jackson for a nine-yard touchdown pass with 8:36 left in the second quarter. Austin’s rushing touchdown came later in the second quarter, and with just 25 seconds remaining in the first half, Austin found Taylor for the first of his two touchdown catches to pull the Gladiators to within three points. Taylor finished the game with 95 receiving yards to lead the Gladiators.
Gladiators defensive back Fred Shaw intercepted a Boltus pass in the final seconds of the first half to keep the Gladiators within three points at the break; a pivotal play with the Gladiators set to receive the second-half kickoff.
The Gladiators outscored Tampa Bay 13-6 in the third quarter on the strength of a 19-yard touchdown catch by Jackson and a 10-yard touchdown catch by Payne as the frame expired; Payne’s first touchdown catch for the Gladiators this season. The Gladiators took a 34-30 lead into the fourth quarter, and Tampa Bay managed 22 points in the final frame to the Gladiators 14.
With 3:27 left in the fourth quarter, Austin found Payne from 18 yards to help the Gladiators to a 48-37 lead. Tampa Bay responded with a two-yard touchdown pass from Boltus to T.T. Toliver with 47 seconds left and a two-point conversion pass to Gregory to cut the Gladiators lead to 48-45. Craig Peterson’s onside kick attempt was recovered by Tampa Bay, setting up a game-winning drive that was capped off by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Boltus to Gregory with 2.5 seconds remaining, catapulting Tampa Bay to a 52-48 lead.
The Gladiators attempted a Hail Mary pass as time expired, but were unable to convert as Tampa Bay held on for the win; their first in three tries this season against Cleveland.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: Shane Austin, CLE
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Willie McGinnis, CLE
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Amarri Jackson, CLE
Cutters Catch of the Game: Emery Sammons 45-yard TD reception in the 4th quarter
AFL Highlight of the Game: Amarri Jackson kickoff return in the 1st half setting up Shane Austin’s TD rush, CLE