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Gladiators fall after back-and-forth final minutes

Friday June 7, 2013

The Cleveland Gladiators (2-9) took a three-point lead with 46 seconds left in the game before the Iowa Barnstormers (5-7) scored with 13 seconds remaining to take a 37-33 win Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Dominick Goodman caught a season-high 18 balls for the Gladiators and scored two touchdowns, but the Gladiators were unable to avoid dropping a fourth consecutive game. Gladiators quarterback Chris Dieker was 30-47 through the air for 250 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted twice by the Barnstormers defense.

Jamar Howard brought the Gladiators fans to their feet on the first scoring play of the game. The Gladiators took a 6-0 lead with 10:55 left in the first quarter when Howard caught an eight-yard pass in the back corner of the end zone, one-handed, while falling over the wall and outside the field of play. The catch was one of two in the game for Howard, who registered 24 receiving yards in the game.

Iowa responded to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:17 left in the first quarter when Darius Reynolds hauled in a seven-yard touchdown catch from Barnstormers quarterback J.J. Raterink, leaving the score 7-7 through one quarter of play. Each team scored a touchdown in the second quarter, with Thyron Lewis finding the end zone for the Gladiators, but a blocked extra point by the Barnstormers gave Iowa a one-point lead at halftime, 14-13.

The only touchdown of the third quarter was a Gladiators score, as Dominick Goodman reeled in a seven-yard pass from Dieker and pushed into the end zone. Iowa offset some of the damage, however, by blocking another Gladiators extra point try and taking the blocked kick back to the end zone, resulting in two points for the Barnstormers. Through three quarters, the Gladiators led 19-16.

A Dieker one-yard touchdown run gave the Gladiators the largest lead either team would see in the game with 13:20 left in the fourth quarter; a 10-point, 26-16 lead. Iowa chipped away at the deficit, and eventually regained a 30-26 lead on a 56-yard De’Mon Glanton interception return for a touchdown with 5:19 left in the game.

Dieker would plunge into the end zone on a four-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds left to give the Gladiators a 33-30 advantage, but 33 seconds later, Reynolds found the end zone again, from 12 yards out, to give Iowa a 37-33 lead that held for the duration.

The Gladiators are in Orlando for the first of back-to-back games in the state of Florida on Saturday June 15 at 7:30 PM for their next game, and return home for a 7:00 PM kickoff against the Philadelphia Soul on Saturday June 29.

NOTES: With 18 catches, Dominick Goodman has 65 catches over his last six games, and entered this weekend’s action fifth in the AFL with 8.56 receptions per game… Since returning from injury, Dieker, a former Barnstormer, has seven touchdown passes over his last two games… Thyron Lewis caught nine balls for 89 yards and a touchdown for the Gladiators… LaRoche Jackson led the Gladiators defense with 7.5 total tackles in the game… Mac linebacker Kris Cooke has a quarterback sack in each of his last two games after a sack against Iowa.