Gladiators remain undefeated with 63-46 comeback win in Iowa
Saturday May 17, 2014
DES MOINES, IA - A furious first half comeback propelled the Cleveland Gladiators (8-0) to a 63-46 win over the Iowa Barnstormers (4-5) Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. The Gladiators trailed by as many as 19 points early in the second quarter, but a series of big plays on offense, defense, and special teams sparked the Gladiators, who outscored Iowa 43-13 over the second and third quarters on Saturday. Quarterback Shane Austin threw seven touchdown passes, and Thyron Lewis was on the receiving end of four of Austin’s touchdown strikes. Three different Gladiators recorded quarterback sacks in the game, while Dominic Jones accumulated 161 kickoff return yards on six returns; one of which was a 58-yard return for a touchdown. The Gladiators are back in action Friday at Quicken Loans Arena where they host the Philadelphia Soul at 7:00 PM.
Turnovers cost the Gladiators early in the game, as Iowa intercepted Shane Austin twice in the early stages to bolt out to a 26-7 lead with 11:44 left in the second quarter. Jones sparked the Gladiators with his 58-yard return touchdown immediately after the Gladiators fell behind by 19 points; a play that marked the first of three consecutive Gladiators touchdowns. After the special teams touchdown from Jones, Joe Phinisee cashed in on an interception thrown by Barnstormers starting quarterback Brian Reader. Phinisee took the interception nine yards into the end zone, and following an Aaron Pettrey extra point, the Gladiators were within five points with 5:23 left in the second quarter.
The Gladiators took their first lead of the game when Lewis caught the first of his four touchdown passes of the evening; a seven-yard strike from Austin with 3:30 left in the second quarter. Lewis ended the game with a team-leading 102 receiving yards on six catches. After Iowa quickly regained a 33-27 lead on a Marco Thomas touchdown with 54 seconds left in the half, Dominick Goodman reeled in his second touchdown grab of the game from five yards with 24 seconds left in the half. Another extra point from Pettrey gave the Gladiators a 34-33 lead at halftime, and the Gladiators would never trail again.
The Gladiators took control of the football game with three straight scoring plays to start the second half. With 9:38 left in the third quarter, Austin and Lewis connected again for a 20-yard touchdown that gave the Gladiators a 41-33 lead. On the ensuing possession, Iowa replaced Reader with newly-acquired quarterback J.J. Raterink, who struggled to find rythym against the stingy Gladiators defense. Raterink was 0-3 passing on his first series, and was sacked in the end zone by Willie McGinnis for a safety that gave the Gladiators a 43-33 lead and the ball. The following possession took just 59 seconds before Austin found Lewis for a 42-yard touchdown pass, vaulting the Gladiators into a 50-33 lead. The 42-yard touchdown pass was the longest passing play of the game.
Each team tallied 13 fourth quarter points, but the Gladiators preserved their lead and prevailed by a 63-46 count. The final Gladiators scoring play of the game was a 31-yard touchdown pass from Austin to Collin Taylor, who spent time with the Barnstormers during the last two seasons. Taylor finished the game with four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown, while Austin finished the game 19-34 passing for 247 yards and seven touchdown passes.
Up next for the Gladiators: Friday at 7:00 PM they host the Philadelphia Soul at Quicken Loans Arena.
NOTES: The Gladiators are 2-0 against the Barnstormers this season; they previously topped Iowa 54-47 on April 4th at Quicken Loans Arena… The Gladiators are 5-0 on the road this season, with their five road wins being the most in the Arena Football League to date… Goodman finished the game with eight catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns… Goodman has 42 catches over his last five games, and now has 498 catches in his AFL career… LaRoche Jackson led the Gladiators with 9.5 tackles in the game, while Brandon Stephens recorded six tackles in his first action for the Gladiators this season... Austin improved to 5-0 as the Gladiators starting quarterback.