Gladiators Fend Off Steel Rally For OT Win

CLEVELAND – In front of 6,733 fans at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Gladiators saw a 20-point lead vanish late in in the fourth quarter, only to recover in overtime and hold off the Portland Steel for a 55-48 victory. Quarterback Arvell Nelson combined for seven total touchdowns in the win, throwing for 222 yards and rushing for another 32, while wide receiver Collin Taylor hauled in seven passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns, including the 10-yard game-winner in overtime. Portland quarterback Shane Austin threw for 363 yards, six touchdowns, and four costly interceptions in the loss.

The Steel began the scoring when former Gladiator quarterback Shane Austin led a five-play, 47-yard drive capped off with a touchdown to another former Gladiator, wide receiver Tom Gilson for a 21-yard touchdown to put Portland on top 7-0 early. The Gladiators offense responded on the following drive by marching 38 yards in six plays with Nelson finding wide receiver Quentin Sims for a six-yard score to even things up 7-7. On the ensuing possession, Austin found Gilson once again for a 13-yard score to put the Steel in front 14-7, but a five-yard touchdown run from Nelson saw the first quarter end with the score all tied up, 14-14.

After defensive end Curtis Young intercepted Austin on a screen pass attempt on the first drive of the second quarter, Nelson found Sims once again on the following play for a 23-yard score in the corner of the end zone to put the Gladiators in front for the first time on the night, 21-14. The Steel righted the ship on the next drive when Austin found wide receiver Tyrone Goard for a 12-yard score, knotting things up at 21 with 4:56 remaining in the first half.

The Gladiators struck again on the next series when Nelson found wide receiver Collin Taylor for a 35-yard touchdown. A missed extra point by kicker Adrian Trevino made the score 27-21 in favor of Cleveland. The next drive for Portland saw an odd turn of events as 6’3”, 330 lb. offensive lineman Deveric Gallington took a hand-off from Austin and rumbled to the two yard line before fumbling into the end zone, where fellow offensive lineman John Collins pounced on it for the Steel touchdown after a wild scrum. The extra point by kicker Ernesto Lacayo put Portland back in front, 28-27. Nelson followed that up with another rushing score, this time from eight yards out to put Cleveland on top once again, 34-28, with a minute remaining in the half. The Gladiators defense stepped up on the next series as defensive back Demarcus Robinson intercepted Austin, sending the squads into halftime with Cleveland ahead 34-28.

Cleveland would open the second half with the ball but a Nelson fumble on the third play of the drive would give the ball back to the Steel. Portland couldn’t capitalize, however, as the Steel offense turned the ball over on downs, leading to a 33-yard strike from Nelson to wide receiver Thyron Lewis to extend the Gladiators lead to 41-28. Portland would turn it over again on the next drive as Austin would be picked off for the second time by Robinson. Robinson would return the interception 45 yards for a Gladiators score, bumping the score to 48-28.

Austin and the Portland offense answered with a six-yard throw-and-catch touchdown to Goard to make the score 48-35 with ten minutes remaining in the game. Nelson would be intercepted on the next two drives, with the first leading to an 11-yard touchdown from Austin to defensive back Christian Wise to trim the Gladiators lead to 48-42. The second interception, made by Wise, led to the Steel offense getting the ball back with under a minute to go. With 2.4 seconds left in the game, Austin would find Goard for a five-yard touchdown as time expired to tie the game. However, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the ball back to the 12-yard line, making Lacayo’s extra point a 27-yard attempt. The kick pushed wide left, sending the game into overtime.

Gladiators opened up the extra frame on offense. Six plays later, Nelson found Taylor for his second touchdown of the game, a 10-yard strike that put Cleveland back on top 55-48. On Portland’s next drive, Austin would be picked off for the fourth time, this time by defensive back Marvin Ross, to seal the 55-48 win.

Next up for the Gladiators is a trip to Amalie Arena for a Week 8 match-up with the Tampa Bay Storm on Monday, May 23rd at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen live on Univision Deportes and can be heard on 92.3 The Fan.

Post-Game awards:

Offensive Player of the Game: CLE: #2 Arvell Nelson: Seven total touchdowns (5 passing/2 rushing) 222 passing yards, 32 rushing yards

Defensive Player of the Game: CLE: #3 Demarcus Robinson: 11 tackles, two interceptions, 45-yard interception return for touchdown

Playmaker of the Game: CLE : #17 Collin Taylor: seven receptions, 90 yards, and two touchdowns.  

Catch of the Game: #4 Marvin Ross: Game-winning interception in overtime

Highlight of the Game: CLE - #17 Collin Taylor’s game-winning 10 yard TD catch in overtime