Gladiators Open Season with 60-44 Victory in Tampa
Friday March 27, 2015
Quarterback Shane Austin threw for 221 yards and seven touchdowns and the defense forced four turnovers as the Cleveland Gladiators (1-0) opened the 2015 season with a 60-44 victory over the Tampa Bay Storm (0-1). Amarri Jackson, Dominick Goodman, and Collin Taylor caught two touchdowns apiece, while Jackson rushed for a third. Jack Linebacker Joe Phinisee had a hand in three of the four Tampa Bay Storm turnovers as he recovered two fumbles and recorded an interception. Defensive Back Dominic Jones made big plays on defense as well, finishing the game with a team-leading 11 tackles. The Gladiators are on the road once again next Saturday as they take on the New Orleans VooDoo at 8:00 p.m. Next Saturday’s game can be heard live on 92.3 The Fan.
The Gladiators got on the board first when Shane Austin found Dominick Goodman in the back of the end zone for a 15-yard score to make it 7-0 with 8:24 left in the first quarter. The Storm responded with a touchdown on Tampa Bay’s opening drive as QB Jason Boltus connected with Jarvis Williams for a 19-yard score with 5:45 left in the quarter to even things back up at 7-7. The Gladiators answered quickly as Austin found Wide Receiver Collin Taylor on the first play of the following drive for a 29 yard touchdown with 4:23 remaining in the first quarter to put Cleveland ahead 13-7.
The Gladiators forced the first of three fumbles on the last play of the first quarter when Defensive End Anthony Degrate jumped on a loose ball given away by Wide Receiver Kendrick Ings.
To open the second quarter, Austin found Wide Receiver Andrae Thurman for his first score as a Gladiator, a 24-yarder to put Cleveland up 19-7. After the ensuing kickoff, JLB Joe Phinisee fell on a Boltus fumble in the end zone for another Gladiators score, extending the lead to 25-7 with 13:35 left in the first half.
The Storm would respond with two touchdowns of their own as Boltus threw touchdown passes of 10 and 28 yards to wide outs T.T. Toliver and Kendrick Ings to trim the Gladiator lead to 25-21 with 48 seconds left in the opening half.
The Gladiators quickly answered with two touchdowns of their own as WR Amarri Jackson, making his debut for the Gladiators against his former squad, took a jet sweep for eight yards and his first score as a Gladiator. Then following Joe Phinisee’s second fumble recovery of the night, Shane Austin threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game to WR Dominick Goodman as time expired to make the score 39-21 at the half and the Gladiators never looked back.
Cleveland opened the scoring in the third quarter as Austin found Amarri Jackson for his first receiving touchdown of the season, a 20-yarder with 5:14 remaining. Boltus and the Storm offense trimmed it back down to an 18-point Gladiators lead when T.T. Toliver hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass at the 1:22 mark of the third quarter.
Tampa Bay never seriously threatened the Gladiator lead in the fourth quarter as the Storm couldn’t cut the deficit lower than 16 points. Austin found Jackson for his third touchdown of the night, a 23-yarder, just 30 seconds into the final quarter. Boltus countered by finding Toliver for a 25-yard touchdown pass, Toliver’s third score of the night. The Glads found the end zone one last time on the night as Austin would find Collin Taylor for a four-yard touchdown. The catch was Taylor’s second touchdown grab on the night. Tampa Bay capped off the scoring for the game when Boltus found Jarvis Williams for a three-yard score with 48 seconds left.
NOTES: The Gladiators have now won three in a row over the Tampa Bay Storm… Mac Linebacker Tim Cheatwood’s sack tonight was his first as a Gladiator since 2012, he spent the 2014 season as an Assistant Coach for the team… JLB Joe Phinisee led the team with five fumble recoveries in 2014, he recorded two of those tonight... Wide Receiver Andrae Thurman caught his first touchdown as a Gladiator, a 24-yarder from Austin in the second quarter Follow the Gladiators on Twitter @CLEGladiators and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clevelandgladiators