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Gladiators Top Orlando in OT, 56-55

Saturday May 2, 2015

CLEVELAND - After erasing an eight-point deficit before regulation time expired, the Cleveland Gladiators (4-2) emerged with a 56-55 overtime road win over the Orlando Predators (3-3) Saturday night at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Shane Austin completed 36 of 44 passes for 364 yards and eight touchdown passes for the Gladiators. In the receiving game, Dominick Goodman and Collin Taylor each hauled in three touchdown grabs while Amarri Jackson had two receiving touchdowns and also had a two-point conversion catch with two seconds remaining to ultimately force overtime. The Gladiators host Jacksonville Saturday, May 9th at 7:00 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena in their next game.

The two teams battled back and forth in the first half, exchanging leads on almost every possession. The Gladiators led 13-7 after one quarter, but Orlando took its first lead, 14-13, 1:59 into the second quarter on a four-yard touchdown pass from Randy Hippeard to Larry Brackins. A 35-yard touchdown pass from Austin to Taylor later helped the Gladiators to a 27-21 advantage with 4:07 left in the second quarter, but Orlando managed to gain a lead that lasted into halftime. Bernard Morris, Orlando’s backup quarterback, entered the game and threw a one-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 41 seconds left in the first half to give the Predators a 28-27 halftime advantage.

Each team scored 14 points in the third quarter, setting up a 42-41 game entering what would be a low-scoring final frame of regulation. After Hippeard connected with Brackins on a six-yard touchdown pass 1:58 into the fourth quarter, the Gladiators defense held the Predators off the board for the duration of regulation time. Orlando had an opportunity to stretch their lead to two scores, but the Gladiators defense stood tall and held the Predators to a missed 28-yard field goal with 90 seconds remaining.

Austin connected with Taylor on an 11-yard touchdown pass with two seconds remaining in regulation to pull the Gladiators to within 49-47, and on the ensuing two-point conversion try, Austin found Jackson in the end zone to his right to tie the game at 49-49.

Orlando won the coin toss before overtime and elected to kick the ball away to start the extra frame. Austin and the Gladiators offense executed an eight-play, 44 yard drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown pass to Goodman; his third of the game. After Goodman’s third touchdown and a converted extra point from Adrian Trevino, the Gladiators led 56-49.

The Predators scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kendal Thompkins to pull to within a point, but on the two point conversion try, the Gladiators defense took away all the options and Hippeard threw an incomplete pass, securing a one-point overtime win for Cleveland.

The Gladiators host Jacksonville on Saturday, May 9th at Quicken Loans Arena. The game airs live on 92.3 The Fan and can be seen live on MY 43 WUAB at 7:00 p.m.

NOTES: The Gladiators are 1-0 against Orlando this season, and they host the Predators at The Q on May 29th and July 18th… The Gladiators and Predators met just once last season, and that was in the American Conference Championship Game… Taylor has 11 total touchdowns over his last three games… Going back to last season’s conference title game, Austin has 15 touchdown passes in his last two games against Orlando; his only games against Orlando as a member of the Gladiators… Brandon Stephens and Joe Phinisee led the Gladiators with eight tackles each, and Willie McGinnis registered a sack in the Gladiators win… Follow the Gladiators on Twitter @CLEGladiators, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clevelandgladiators, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/clevelandgladiators.