Mustangs Mistakes Prove Costly in 69-48 loss
Mistakes and missed opportunities are the best way to describe the play of the Milwaukee Mustangs (3-5) as they were defeated by the Cleveland Gladiators (5-3) 69-48. This conference game was an important one as a win would have brought the Mustangs back to a .500 record.
At the end of the first quarter it seemed like it was going to be a good game. Cleveland scored on the opening drive on an 18 yard pass from quarterback John Dutton caught in the end zone by Dominick Goodman. Dutton went 2-of-5 in the opening drive.
Mustangs quarterback Gino Guidugli was dialed in as he threw four straight complete passes to two different receivers. The drive was capped off by a 15-yard touchdown pass caught in the end zone by wide receiver Andrae Thurman. The extra point was good, but the snap on the kick was badly bobbled. This problem would haunt the Mustangs the entire game.
Cleveland was able to recover their own fumble in the middle of their next drive. They scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown by fullback Jeramie Richardson. The extra point attempt was blocked by Milwaukee defensive lineman Dwayne Lefall.
The next drive is clearly where Milwaukee's problems began. Gino Guidugli went 4-of-8 but there was obvious miscommunication on some of these plays. Milwaukee decided to settle for a field goal on this drive, but for a horrible snap (number two for those counting along) to backup quarterback Shane Boyd. Kicker Joshua Smith picked up the ball but was sacked and fumbled the ball which was recovered by Cleveland's Joe Phinisee and returned 39 yards for a Cleveland touchdown.
Milwaukee's next drive started at the four yard line. Milwaukee went backwards on their next drive. An eight yard sack and two incomplete passes left Milwaukee on their own 1 yard line. Joshua Smith attempted a field goal from five yards deep in their end zone. The kick was blocked and recovered in the end zone by Jeramie Richardson for another defensive touchdown.
"It wasn't even a kick", stated kicked Milwaukee kicker Joshua Smith, who was released immediately following the game, "I even did a one step instead of a traditional 3-step. It was a breakdown on the line. They got right through. If they get a free run at it that is a tough loss. I take full responsibility; it is my job to get the ball out." Smith did not seem surprised by the dismissal.
Cleveland connected on a designed play for a two point conversion on a pass to Tim Cheatwood. Milwaukee was down at this point 28-7.
Following the kickoff Guidugli's first pass appeared to be intercepted. Head coach Bob Landsee waiting until the last moment to challenge the ruling on the field. He seemed to be watching the scoreboard to confirm his thoughts. The ruling was overturned as the ball had touched the ground during the process of the interception.
Milwaukee's discipline had broken down at this point with two unsportsman like conduct calls in the span of 2 minutes. Guidugli was able to settle his team down and completed a 34 yard bullet to Jared Jenkins in the end zone. There were no apparent mishaps on this extra point attempt as Milwaukee started to close the gap 28-14.
Cleveland took as much time off the clock as they could as the first half was winding down. Cleveland quarterback John Dutton led the Gladiators on a ten play drive forcing Milwaukee to use two of its timeouts. Cleveland scored on a 2 yard run by Jeramie Richardson. Cleveland was up 35-14 after the extra point by Cleveland kicker Dominick Goodman.
With 23.2 seconds left on the clock Kelvin Rodgers returned the ball to the 23. A defensive pass interference call put the ball on Cleveland's 18 yard line. Guidugli went 2-2 on this quick drive that was finished by a beautiful fingertip catch by Andrae Thurman in the end zone. After another uneventful extra point conversion Milwaukee was back in the game, down by 14 with the score 35-21.
The half ended with Cleveland quarterback kneeling down for a loss of 1 yard. Now my understanding of the rules are that the ball must be advanced past the line of scrimmage for the clock to continue to run so I was a bit confused on this play and the fact that the clock was allowed to run down.
The second half began with Milwaukee and Cleveland trading touchdowns. Milwaukee scored again, but after a bad snap (number 3) Joshua Smith missed the extra point wide right. Milwaukee was now 8 points back with a score of 42-34.
After an eight play drive by Cleveland Milwaukee linebacker Marcus Everett intercepted a pass by John Dutton. Everett brought the interception back 23 yards giving Milwaukee the ball on the Milwaukee 24 yard line.
Guidugli hit Jared Jenkins for a ten yard gain followed by two great defensive plays by Cleveland breaking up two passes. Guidugli once again connected with Jenkins for a 14 yard pass putting the ball on Cleveland's 2 yard line. Guidugli rushed on three consecutive plays to finally break the goal line and tying the game up at 42 a piece after a two point conversion with a pass to Andrae Thurman.
This is the point of the game that the Milwaukee defense apparently thought the game was over as they never really showed up for the rest of the game. John Dutton had a 24 yard completion to Dominick Goodman to put the ball on the 1 yard line. Jeramie Richardson walked in with his fourth touchdown of the night. This put Cleveland back on top 49-42.
The Cleveland defense put the pressure on and Levy Brown intercepted Guidugli's first pass of the drive. Brown returned the interception 30 yards to Milwaukee's 4 yard line. Dutton passed to Derik Steiner for a 4 yard touchdown. Cleveland Aaron Pettrey missed the extra point wide to the right. Cleveland was still on top 55-42.
Kelvin Rodgers had a beautiful kickoff return for a touchdown. Cleveland challenged the call stating that the ball had touched the top of the wall. The ruling on the field stood stating that Rodgers had his hands under the ball and the ball did not touch the wall. After another bad snap Joshua Smith made the extra point only to be called back for offensive holding. The second attempt was missed wide to the left. This put the score at 55-48.
Milwaukee tried the onside kick but it was a horrible attempt at it. "The onside kick is my bread and butter." Joshua Smith said, "It did not go where I thought the ball would go."
Cleveland took no time in taking advantage of this great field position scoring in one play on a pass to Robert Redd. This added seven points to Cleveland's lead with the score now 62-48.
Cleveland kicked the ball out of bounds and Milwaukee took over around the midfield stripe. Guidugli was obviously trying to make something happen and forced an interception to Dustin Bell. Three plays later John Dutton completed another touchdown pass to Robert Redd.
Kelvin Rodgers returned the kickoff 13 yards. Milwaukee stalled and eventually fumbled the ball near the end zone. Cleveland took their time on the next play and Dutton threw the ball incomplete once time had expired.
A distraught Coach Bob Landsee said that we should expect to see more personnel changes but he needed to review the film before making any final decisions.