CLEVELAND – Thanks to major contributions from a host of players on both sides of the ball, the Cleveland Gladiators improved to 1-3 on the season with a 48-34 victory over the Washington Valor on Friday in front of 9,223 fans at The Q. Gladiators QB Arvell Nelson led the way offensively, providing 243 yards and three touchdowns through the air on 20/34 passing and adding 60 rushing yards and two scores on the ground on five carries.
Cleveland started the scoring with a six-yard rushing touchdown from WR Quentin Sims in the first quarter, but Valor QB Erik Meyer connected with Washington WR TT Toliver later in the frame to tie the game at seven heading into the second quarter of play.
Nelson provided a five-yard rushing touchdown to make it 14-7 Gladiators early in the second before Meyer and WR Roger Jackson hooked up from nine yards out to tie the game at 14 apiece. Later in the quarter Nelson completed his first touchdown toss to WR Brandon Thompkins to reclaim the lead for Cleveland at 21-14, but a Toliver rushing score again leveled things for the Valor minutes later. Washington went on to claim their first edge at 27-21 when Meyer connected with WR Greg Carr from eight yards out in the first half’s final minute and, after Nelson threw an interception moments later, the visitors maintained their advantage heading into halftime.
In the third quarter, Nelson sparked the Gladiators’ offense with a highlight-reel 43-yard scoring scamper to tie the game, then handed the ball to FB PhillipKeith Manley on Cleveland’s next possession, who bulldozed his way into the end zone from one yard out to make it 33-27 Gladiators. From there, Nelson and Sims combined for an eight-yard touchdown reception that capped a 20-0 run for the home team and pushed Cleveland’s lead to 41-27 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, a Meyer-to-Carr touchdown pass drew the Valor within a score at 41-33, but the Gladiators slammed the door with a 39-yard bomb from Nelson to WR Collin Taylor on fourth down with six minutes left that polished off Cleveland’s final margin of victory at 48-34.
NOTES : Cleveland scored twice on fourth down in Saturday’s win while the Gladiators’ defense turned the Valor offense over on downs in three of Washington’s final four possessions…DB Peter Tulloch led all Cleveland players with eight solo tackles while DB Frederick Obi and DB Terry Johnson each notched an interception in the Gladiators’ victory…Nelson completed passes to a season-high five different targets with four players (Taylor, Thompkins, Sims and WR Michael Preston) each racking up 50+ yards through the air…Three players (Nelson, Sims, Manley) registered a rushing touchdown in the win.
WEEK 5 SCHEDULING NOTE : The Arena Football League announced today that the Week 5 game between the Philadelphia Soul and the Cleveland Gladiators, originally scheduled for Friday, May 5 at 7:00 pm in Cleveland, has been moved to Saturday, May 6th with kickoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST at Quicken Loans Arena due to a Cavaliers NBA Playoff fan fest and watch party that will take place at The Q on Friday. Any tickets held for the originally scheduled date of May 5th will be honored on Saturday, May 6th at 7:00 pm at The Q. The matchup between the Gladiators and Soul will also be streamed live on www.arenafootball.com.
Next up for the Gladiators, it’s a Week 5 Saturday home clash vs. the Philadelphia Soul with full coverage, live from The Q, underway at 7:00 pm on Spectrum Sports and simulcast on 92.3 The Fan.
POST-GAME AWARDS :
Offensive Player of the Game: Cleveland QB Arvell Nelson – 20/34 passing, 243 yards, three touchdowns, five rushing attempts, 60 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Game: Cleveland DB Frederick Obi – Two solo tackles, one tackle for loss (one yard), one interception, three passes defended.
MVP of the Game: Cleveland WR Collin Taylor – Three receptions, 68 yards, one touchdown catch (39 yards).