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Gladiators Fall to Orlando 63-42

Friday May 29, 2015

CLEVELAND - Three turnovers led to the Cleveland Gladiators (5-5) falling by a 63-42 score to the Orlando Predators (6-4) Friday night before 10,670 fans at Quicken Loans Arena. The Gladiators Dominick Goodman led all receivers in the game with 145 yards, and Gladiators receiver Collin Taylor had a game-high 14 catches while amassing 103 yards. Orlando managed to intercept two passes and also recovered a Gladiators fumble, as the three-game season series between the two teams is even at a game apiece with one meeting remaining. The Gladiators visit Las Vegas on Sunday, June 7th for a game that starts at 5:00 p.m. Eastern and airs live on 92.3 The Fan.

Orlando opened the game with a 43-yard drive that took 5:03 and culminated with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Bernard Morris to LaMark Brown. On the ensuing Gladiators drive, Collin Taylor was met with a hard hit in the red zone that jarred the ball loose, and Orlando recovered the fumble. Orlando marched down the field for a five-play, 39-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown run by fullback Michael Simons; the first of his four rushing touchdowns in the game. Leading 14-0 after 15 minutes, Orlando never surrendered their advantage.

Goodman’s six-yard touchdown catch with 8:58 remaining in the second quarter and Austin’s one-yard touchdown run with 58 seconds left in the first half each pulled the Gladiators to within seven points, but the seven-point margin was the closest the Gladiators would come on Friday night. Orlando managed 14 points in the final 46 seconds of the first half, including a 44-yard touchdown pass from Morris to Kendal Thompkins with 10 seconds left in the half to bolt to a 35-14 halftime lead.

Each team’s fullback registered a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. For the Gladiators, Phillip-Keith Manley notched his first rushing touchdown of the season with 8:23 remaining in the quarter to cap off the second half’s opening drive, but Simons answered for the Predators just over four minutes later.

The two teams evenly split 42 combined points that were scored in a busy fourth quarter. Three different Gladiators: Taylor, Andy Cruse, and Goodman found the end zone, but Orlando was able to respond and match each Gladiators touchdown. Cruse’s touchdown came on an 11-yard pass from Austin with 10:45 left in regulation, and marked his first AFL touchdown catch.

Just as he capped off the scoring in the first half, Kendal Thompkins scored the game’s final touchdown with 28 seconds left on a 14-yard touchdown pass. Thompkins’ second touchdown of the game pushed Orlando to a 63-42 lead, which ultimately was the final score.

The Gladiators begin a two-game road swing on Sunday, June 7th in Las Vegas. The game starts at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, and can be heard on 92.3 The Fan. The Gladiators return home on Friday, June 19th to host Tampa Bay at 7:00 p.m. at The Q.

NOTES: The Gladiators are 1-1 against Orlando this season… The Gladiators outgained Orlando in total yardage 392-244 on Friday… Orlando held the Gladiators to 27 yards on five kickoff returns… Orlando was 7-8 on red zone opportunities, while the Gladiators were 4-7… Taylor has at least one receiving touchdown in seven straight games… Joe Phinisee led the Gladiators with five total tackles in the game… Follow the Gladiators on Twitter @CLEGladiators, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clevelandgladiators, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/clevelandgladiators.