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Utah Blaze Conquer Cleveland Gladiators, 57-40

Saturday April 27, 2013

Grady throws for seven scores, Defense forces five turnovers in victory

CLEVELAND – The Utah Blaze (2-3) put forth its most complete effort of the season in a 57-40 victory over the Cleveland Gladiators (1-4) on Saturday night. Utah dominated the third quarter, outscoring the opponent 21-0 while coming up with three turnovers.

MVP quarterback Tommy Grady completed 30-of-42 attempts for 300 yards with seven touchdowns before being relieved by backup Jason Boltus in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Aaron Lesué turned in an outstanding performance, coming up with a season-high 14 receptions for 156 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensively, the Blaze forced five takeaways on the night, coming up with two interceptions and three turnovers on downs. Maurice Leggett led the way for Utah, registering seven tackles with five pass breakups and one interception. David Hyland also notched an interception, as he totaled four tackles and two pass breakups in the game.

Cleveland got on the board first, as wide receiver Jonathan Lewis caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brian Zbydniewski to take a 7-0 lead. However, wide receiver Mario Urrutia quickly tied the game for the Blaze, hauling in an 11-yard score from Grady.

The Gladiators regained the lead on the following possession, capping off a six-play, 45-yard drive with a quarterback sneak from Zbydniewski. But the Blaze needed just one play to find the end zone, as Grady scrambled to avoid pressure before launching a 36-yard touchdown to a wide-open Aaron Lesué. Cleveland maintained a 14-13 lead, as kicker Adrian Trevino missed the extra point and was injured on the play, forcing Utah to go for two during the remainder of the game.

The Blaze opened the second quarter with a turnover on downs, as pressure by the defensive line forced an incomplete pass by Zbydniewski on fourth-and-goal. Utah found the end zone four plays and 43 yards later, as wide receiver L.J. Castile secured a 16-yard touchdown reception that sent him flying into the dasher boards. A failed two-point conversion attempt gave the Blaze a 19-14 advantage midway through the second frame.

Cleveland scored quickly off a touchdown run by Zbydniewski after a failed onside kick attempt gave the Gladiators the ball at Utah’s five yard line, taking a 21-19 lead. On the ensuing possession, Tommy Grady capped off a 10-play, 38-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak and Urrutia successfully converted a two-point conversion to a take a 27-21 lead at halftime.

Grady hooked up with Urrutia on a five-yard touchdown completion on the opening possession of the third quarter to put Utah ahead, 33-21. On the ensuing Gladiators drive, defensive back David Hyland went flying over the boards while securing an interception in the end zone to give the ball back to the Blaze. Grady and Lesué successfully converted the turnover into points, as Lesué snared a 16-yard touchdown pass before hauling in the two-point conversion to give Utah a 41-21 advantage.

Defensive back Maurice Leggett halted another Gladiators drive moments later with another interception and Lesué once again found the end zone on the ensuing Blaze possession. Grady hit Lesué from six yards out for a touchdown and Mario Urrutia came down with the two-point conversion, as Utah mounted a 49-21 lead at the end of the third period.

Cleveland finally found the end zone again to start the fourth quarter, as Zbydniewski hooked up Wilson from 19 yards out. But the Gladiators would be unsuccessful on the onside kick attempt and the Blaze quickly converted the great field position into a score, as Grady connected with Lesué on a 12-yard touchdown and fullback Yoshi Hardrick pounded the two-point attempt into the end zone to take a 57-28 lead.

The Gladiators scored twice to end the game, as Zbydniewski tossed another score to Wilson and fullback Derik Steiner rushed for a one-yard touchdown.

With another victory under their belts, the Utah Blaze will return to Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 4th to take on the division-rival Spokane Shock. Kickoff from EnergySolutions Arena is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. MT. Tickets are still available for purchase by calling 1-888-99BLAZE or online at UTBlaze.com.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Utah Blaze QB Tommy Grady

RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Cleveland Gladiators Defensive Back Lenny Wicks

J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME
Utah Blaze WR Aaron Lesué

CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME
End of the half interception by Cleveland Gladiators defensive back Lenny Wicks

AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
End of the half interception by Cleveland Gladiators defensive back Lenny Wicks

ABOUT THE BLAZE
The Utah Blaze return to EnergySolutions Arena on Saturday, May 4th to battle the bitter division rival Spokane Shock. Get YOUR tickets today by calling 1-888-99BLAZE or online at UTBlaze.com! Interact with us all week leading up to the game on Twitter (@UTBLAZE) or Instagram (@UtahBlaze). Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/utahblaze) or head to UTBlaze.com for all the latest news!