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Gladiators Slip Away From VooDoo

Saturday May 16, 2015

 NEW ORLEANS - Cleveland Gladiator quarterback Shane Austin threw for six touchdowns and ran for another as Cleveland (5-3) pulled away to a 64-42 victory over the VooDoo (2-6) on Friday evening at Quicken Loans Arena.

Both teams would trade early scores, as for the second time in recent weeks the VooDoo secondary gave a big early touchdown, this time it was Austin connected with Collin Taylor, who streaked past Rayshaun Kizer for the 36 yard score just 42 seconds into the contest. An offside flag would nullify a Gladiator pick six on Brian Reader's first pass of the game, and the ensuing VooDoo drive would be extended three different times by Cleveland penalties. Roger Jackson then caught his fifth touchdown pass of the season, this time from three yards out as the VooDoo would march 44 yards in eight plays to tie the game at 7 apiece.

Momentum shifted midway through the second quarter following a Shane Austin touchdown pass to Dominick Goodman giving the Gladiators a 21-14 lead, VooDoo fullback Kevin Ashak took a handoff from quarterback Brian Reader before being stripped of the football by Anthony Degrate, and the ball bounced right towards Gladiator linebacker Tim Cheatwood. Four plays later Austin would find Goodman for the second time - this time in the back right corner of the endzone. Adam Trevino would miss the extra point wide right, but make up for it on the very next play.

Trevino's kickoff careened off the upright, and the live ball fell kindly to Trevino with nobody around him at the New Orleans 14 yard line. Trevino would convert an 18 yard field goal on that drive, and drill a 33 yarder right before halftime to give the Gladiators their largest lead of the first half, 33-20.

Austin continued his success through the air in the third quarter hitting on four of his first five passes, including a 10 yard touchdown strike to Amarri Jackson that Rayshaun Kizer was millimeters away from intercepting. Brian Reader and the VooDoo would continue to battle, and he would find a wide open Chris Duvalt for the 13th time the season, cutting the score to 40-28 with 4:53 to play in the third quarter. A pair of Amarri Jackson touchdowns, the first a 51 yard kick returning on the ensuing kickoff, the second a 10 yard pass from Austin following a VooDoo turnover on downs would all but end the contest.

Brian Reader matched Austin's six touchdowns on the evening, finishing 17-of-33 for 191 yards with no interceptions and a lost fumble. Roger Jackson continued his strong start to the season grabbing another nine passes for 95 yards and three touchdowns, including 30 yard catch and run in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to just two scores with 2:23 to play in the game.

Carlese Franklin lead all players in total yards, with 195 (22 rec, 173 return), while Rayshaun Kizer led the VooDoo defense in tackles (7.5) and had a pair of pass breakups in his first action since April 26 against Philadelphia.

For Cleveland, Austin finished 20-of-32 for 212 yards, while Goodman had nine catches for 97 yards and three scores. Former VooDoo defensive back Justin Hannah led the Gladiators with 5.5 tackles, while linebacker Cheatwood, wide receiver Andy Cruse, and defensive lineman Randy Colling recovered all three VooDoo fumbles.

The VooDoo return to action next Saturday night when they host the Jacksonville Sharks at the Smoothie King Center. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m., and the game can be viewed on ESPN3, or via the WatchESPN App. Audio of the game will be available on Fox Sports 1280 AM, or via the iHeartRadio app.

Playing their fifth season since returning in 2011, the New Orleans VooDoo play all their home games at the Smoothie King Center (formerly New Orleans Arena). Season and single game tickets can be purchased by contacting the sales department at 888-277-5526 ext. 109 or ext. 133 or by visiting Like us on Facebook at “New Orleans VooDoo” and follow us on Twitter @AFLVooDoo.

Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network will nationally broadcast AFL games each week for the entire 2015 season. The AFL schedule culminates with ArenaBowl XXVIII Saturday, August 29, 2015 on ESPN.