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Last-second field goal keeps Gladiators undefeated

Saturday May 10, 2014

CLEVELAND, OH - Aaron Pettrey’s 17-yard field goal as time expired secured a 45-42 win for the Cleveland Gladiators (7-0) over the Los Angeles KISS (2-6) Saturday night before a Quicken Loans Arena crowd of 10,472. Dominick Goodman and Thyron Lewis each had 10 receptions and two touchdowns for the Gladiators, while quarterback Shane Austin completed 26 of 41 passes for 252 yards and five touchdown passes. Marrio Norman intercepted two passes for the Gladiators, and leads the league in interceptions with eight this season. The Gladiators head back on the road to begin a string of four straight games against East Division opponents next week when they visit Iowa at 8:05 PM Eastern on Saturday, May 17.

An eight-yard touchdown catch by Dominick Goodman with 10:39 left in the first quarter put the Gladiators on the board first before an unconventional touchdown extended the Gladiators lead to 13-0. Dominic Jones returned a missed Los Angeles field goal attempt 52 yards for a touchdown with 4:50 remaining in the opening quarter to give the Gladiators a two-score advantage, but Los Angeles would find the end zone before the close of the first quarter; Donovan Morgan’s 10-yard touchdown catch with 1:23 left in the quarter cut the Gladiators lead to 13-7, which is how the first quarter would end.

In the second quarter, the Gladiators built a cushion, leading by as many as 20 points. Tyrone Collins caught a 20-yard touchdown pass 11 seconds into the second quarter, and Lewis would notch the first of his two touchdown grabs on the game with 5:46 left in the second quarter to give the Gladiators a 27-7 lead. A.J. Cruz caught a 12-yard touchdown pass for Los Angeles with 50 seconds left in the second quarter, cutting the Gladiators lead to 27-14, and Cruz missed a second touchdown in the final seconds of the first half when he was stopped a half-yard shy of the goal line by the Gladiators defense.

The third quarter was back-and-forth in nature, with each team scoring a pair of touchdowns. Lewis and Goodman each had 14-yard touchdown catches, the second touchdown grab of the game for each, in the third stanza. However, a Beau Bell 25-yard interception return and a one-yard touchdown run from J.J. Raterink allowed Los Angeles to keep pace with the Gladiators in the third frame, leaving the score at 42-28 in favor of Cleveland heading into the fourth quarter.

Maurice Williams caught a 24-yard touchdown pass 3:55 into the fourth quarter, and Matt Estrada returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown with 8:10 left in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 42-42 for Los Angeles, but the Gladators managed to score the decisive points in the final seconds. Despite not scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Cleveland prevailed when Pettrey put an exclamation point on the final drive of the game with a game-winning 17-yard field goal that made the score 45-42.

The Gladiators visit the Iowa Barnstormers for their next game on Saturday, May 17 at 8:05 PM Eastern; a game that airs live on 92.3 The Fan.

NOTES: The Gladiators and Arizona Rattlers are the only two undefeated teams in the AFL at 7-0; Arizona visits Portland Sunday… The Gladiators and Arizona do not play each other in the regular season… The Gladiators are the only team in the AFL that has allowed fewer than 300 points this season; currently, the Gladiators have allowed just 276 points this season… Goodman has 34 catches over his last four games for the Gladiators… Austin has at least 16 completions and three touchdown passes in his last six games, and is 4-0 as the starter.