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Gladiators Win Fifth Straight, Top Portland 61-40

Sunday July 6, 2014

Dominick Goodman reeled in a season-high five touchdown catches as the Cleveland Gladiators (14-1) defeated the Portland Thunder (4-11) on the strength of a 20-point fourth quarter, winning the first-ever matchup between the two teams 61-40. Gladiators quarterback Shane Austin completed 16 of 23 passes for 221 yards and six touchdowns before a Quicken Loans Arena crowd of 9,840 Saturday night. Thyron Lewis also recorded a touchdown catch, while LaRoche Jackson finished the game with 173 kickoff return yards on six returns, which also included a 56-yard kickoff return touchdown in the third quarter. The Gladiators can clinch first place in the American Conference with a win next Saturday in San Antonio; kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 PM Eastern.

Jason Jones plunged into the end zone 2:54 into the contest from a yard out to give the Gladiators an early 7-0 lead.  After Portland tied the game later in the quarter on a one-yard score from quarterback Kyle Rowley, Goodman began his run of touchdown catches with just six seconds remaining in the first quarter when Austin found him for a seven-yard touchdown pass.  The touchdown gave the Gladiators a 13-7 edge after one quarter, and Goodman notched at least one touchdown in each quarter of the game.  Dominic Jones’ first quarter interception was instrumental in the Gladiators holding a lead after the first quarter; Jones’ interception was the first of four the Gladiators defense would register in the game.
Each team scored just once in a penalty-filled second quarter.  With 2:34 left in the frame, Portland’s Douglas McNeil III put the Thunder into the lead for the only time in the game with a four-yard touchdown grab that, after a converted extra point, secured a 14-13 lead for the Thunder.  The lead would last just two minutes, as Goodman found the end zone on a two-yard touchdown pass from Austin with 34 seconds left in the second quarter.  Goodman’s second receiving touchdown of the game put the Gladiators up 20-14, and another key interception by Jones kept the Gladiators on top as time expired on the first half.  Jones finished the game with three interceptions, while Marrio Norman chipped in a team-leading 11th interception of the season.
Scoring picked up in the third quarter, and Portland struck first in the second half when Jamar Howard found the end zone on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Rowley 2:50 into the frame.  The two teams proceeded to alternate scores thoughout the quarter, each having an answer for the other.  With the game tied 20-20 following Howard’s touchdown, Goodman was back in the end zone with 10:19 left in the third on a 21-yard pass from Austin to put the Gladiators back in front 27-20.  Lewis scored on a 26-yard strike from Austin with 4:15 left in the third, and special teams turned the game in the favor of the Gladiators in the final minute of the third quarter.  With the game tied 34-34, Jackson took a kickoff 56 yards for a touchdown, giving the Gladiators a 41-34 lead through three quarters. 
The Gladiators outscored Portland 20-6 in the fourth quarter to pull away and secure the 61-40 victory.  Goodman had touchdown grabs from eight and 11 yards, while Jason Jones had his second rushing touchdown of the game; a four-yarder with 1:52 left.  Jones finished the game as the Gladiators rushing leader, picking up 27 yards on three attempts, which included a long gain of 22 yards.
The Gladiators hit the field next week in San Antonio for an 8:00 PM Eastern kickoff Saturday night.  All Gladiators games air live on 92.3 The Fan.
NOTES: Austin is 10-1 as the Gladiators starting quarterback… Austin’s touchdown-to-interception ratio currently stands at 82-13 on the season, and 37-3 over the Gladiators five-game win streak… Lewis leads the Gladiators with 33 touchdown catches this season, while Goodman is second with 29 on the campaign… Goodman leads the Gladiators with 128 catches through 15 games… Collin Taylor finished Saturday’s game with five catches for 81 yards… Jackson led the Gladiators with 10 total tackles in the game, while Dominic Jones had six… The victory keeps the Gladiators unbeaten at The Q, where they are 8-0 this season.