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Gladiators Win 7th Straight, Top Jacksonville 62-20

Sunday July 20, 2014

Cleveland’s defense did not allow a point in the second half, and the Gladiators (16-1) cruised to a 62-20 victory over the Jacksonville Sharks (6-11) Saturday night before a Quicken Loans Arena crowd of 13,064. The victory ties the Arena Football League’s record for wins in a regular season. The Gladiators outscored Jacksonville 27-0 in the second half, as quarterback Shane Austin posted 345 passing yards and six touchdown passes on 24-of-34 passing. Dominick Goodman caught nine balls for 113 yards and three touchdowns, while Thyron Lewis posted 115 receiving yards on five catches. Defensively, the Gladiators forced Jacksonville to lose a pair of fumbles and they intercepted the Sharks twice.

The Gladiators took a lead on the first drive of the game, and led from that point forward. With 11:58 left in the opening quarter, Collin Taylor was the recipient of a three-yard touchdown pass from Austin, helping the Gladiators take a 7-0 lead. Jacksonville scored on their first drive, but failed to convert on the extra point with 8:50 left in the first quarter. As a result, the Sharks were playing from behind for the duration of the contest. Goodman’s first touchdown of the game, a five-yard catch, propelled the Gladiators to a 14-6 lead after one quarter.
Jacksonville’s Jomo Wilson scored on a 25-yard fourth down pass from R.J. Archer 49 seconds in to the second quarter, but the Gladiators responded with seven of the game’s next eight total touchdowns. With 10:17 left in the second quarter, Goodman scored on a nine-yard pass from Austin to give the Gladiators a 21-13 lead. Under six minutes later, Royce Pollard caught his first professional touchdown, a 20-yard leaping grab in the back of the end zone, to extend the Cleveland lead to 28-13.
Goodman’s 33-yard touchdown catch-and-run as the first half expired may have been the game’s turning point. Following a Jacksonville touchdown with 4.3 seconds left in the first half, the Gladiators began a drive with one quick pass to the sideline for Goodman, followed by the play that resulted in six points. Austin tossed over the middle to Goodman, who finished the play by plowing through defenders on his way to the end zone to help the Gladiators to a 35-20 lead.
The Gladiators were perfect in the second half, outscoring Jacksonville 13-0 in the third quarter and 14-0 in the fourth quarter. Offensive lineman Jason Jones scored twice in the second half; once on a four-yard run with 9:26 left in the third quarter, and again on a nine-yard catch with 12:51 left in the game. Offensively, the Gladiators scored on all seven of their trips to the red zone in the game, while the Gladiators defense held Jacksonville out of the end zone in two of the Sharks three visits to the red zone.
The Gladiators will try to secure the league’s overall best record Saturday on the road against the Tampa Bay Storm at 7:30 PM; a game that airs live on 92.3 The Fan. The Gladiators will also have a chance to set the all-time AFL record for wins in a regular season. Currently, the Gladiators share the record of 16 wins in a regular season with the 2011 Arizona Rattlers, who were defeated in that season’s ArenaBowl.
NOTES: Austin is 12-1 as the Gladiators starter, and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 49-5 during the team’s seven-game win streak… Austin’s touchdown-to-interception ratio on the season is 94-15… Thyron Lewis, who has 34 touchdown catches this season and shares the team lead in that category with Goodman, had his first rushing touchdown of the season in the third quarter… Goodman’s nine catches give him a team-leading 149 catches; he led the AFL in receptions entering the week… Taylor’s six catches give him 75 on the season… LaRoche Jackson had eight total tackles, giving him a team-leading 104 on the season… Marrio Norman’s interception gives him a team-leading 12 on the campaign… The victory was the first ever for the Gladiators in seven tries against Jacksonville.