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Gladiators Clinch Playoff Berth with Win Over Spokane, Announce Quarterfinal Date and Watch Party

Sunday August 2, 2015

CLEVELAND, OH - Wth a 59-42 victory over the Spokane Shock Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Gladiators clinched a berth in the Arena Football League playoffs for the second straight season. The Gladiators will visit the Philadelphia Soul in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday, August 15th at 5:00 p.m., and the game will air live on 92.3 The Fan and can be seen on CBS Sports Network. Fans are encouraged to attend The Official Gladiators Playoff Watch Party at Dave & Buster’s in Westlake to watch all the first round action between the Gladiators and Soul.

Needing a victory to earn a second straight trip to the playoffs, the Cleveland Gladiators (8-9) topped the Spokane Shock (6-11) 59-42 Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena before a crowd of 11,674. Shane Austin threw five touchdown passes to Collin Taylor and another to Thyron Lewis to propel the Gladiators to the victory. The Gladiators conclude the regular season next Saturday at The Q at 7:00 p.m. against the American Conference leading Philadelphia Soul, and will visit Philadelphia to open the Arena Football League Playoffs on Saturday, August 15th at 5:00 p.m. All Gladiators games air live on 92.3 The Fan.

The Gladiators set the tone early against Spokane on both offense and defense. On the second offensive play of the game, Austin tossed a pass to Taylor to his right, and Taylor took the ball 29 yards to the end zone to help the Gladiators to a 7-0 lead 1:19 into the game. On Spokane’s first drive, Devon Dace intercepted Shock quarterback Arvell Nelson, and the Gladiators proceeded to take a 14-0 lead after a 27-yard touchdown pass from Austin to a wide-open Taylor with 10:15 left in the opening quarter. Taylor added another touchdown catch with 6:12 left in the first quarter, and the Gladiators ultimately led 21-7 after the opening stanza.

In the second quarter, a 29-yard Adrian Trevino field goal with 9:16 left in the frame and a 30-yard hookup from Austin to Taylor with 21 seconds left before halftime gave the Gladiators a 31-14 halftime lead. Overall, Taylor finished the game with a team-high nine catches for a game-high 142 yards and five touchdown catches.

The Gladiators continued to build their lead with a takeaway on Spokane’s first possession of the second half. Nelson fumbled near the goal line, and Gladiators Jack Linebacker Joe Phinisee scooped up the loose ball before trotting to the end zone with the first of his two fumble recoveries in the game. Phinisee’s defensive touchdown helped the Gladiators to a 38-14 advantage 1:10 into the second half. Phinisee’s touchdown marked the only scoring in the third quarter for the Gladiators, who led 38-21 through three quarters.

Each team tallied 21 points in the fourth quarter. The first Gladiators points came on Taylor’s fifth touchdown catch of the game; a 16-yarder from Austin with 9:33 left that put Cleveland up 45-21. Taylor finished the game with 41 touchdown passes, making him the first Gladiator since 2010 to reach and surpass the 40 receiving touchdown plateau. Taylor’s 41 touchdown catches on the campaign put him into a tie for the league’s leading total. Lewis added an 11-yard touchdown catch and Jeramie Richardson posted a six-yard touchdown run later in the fourth quarter, as the Gladiators topped Spokane 59-42.

The Gladiators host Philadelphia in the regular season finale for each team next Saturday, August 8th, at 7:00 p.m. The game will air live on 92.3 The Fan and will be televised live on MY 43 WUAB.

The Gladiators will open the playoffs in Philadelphia at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 15th. The postseason opener will air live on 92.3 The Fan. Fans are encouraged to watch the Gladiators first round playoff game at The Official Gladiators Playoff Watch Party at Dave & Buster’s in Westlake.

NOTES: Austin finished the game with 98 touchdown passes on the season; one away from tying his single-season career-high of 99 from last season, and two away from tying the Gladiators single-season record of 100 set by John Dutton in 2010… The Gladiators had the ball for 35:23 and Spokane had the ball for 24:37 on Saturday… Marrio Norman returned to the Gladiators lineup Saturday; the First-Team All-Arena Defensive Back from 2014 led the Gladiators with six tackles… Dominic Jones registered one interception and 5.5 tackles for the Gladiators… Willie McGinnis had a pair of sacks, and has a team-leading 9.5 sacks this season for the Gladiators… Follow the Gladiators on Twitter @CLEGladiators, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clevelandgladiators, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/clevelandgladiators.