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Gladiators hold on to defeat Tampa Bay, 41-28

Saturday April 9, 2016

 Powell’s pick-six secures first victory of the season for Cleveland.

CLEVELAND, OH – In the first of two meetings between the teams, the Gladiators outlasted the Tampa Bay Storm on Saturday night, 41-29, in front of 11,892 fans at Quicken Loans Arena. The Gladiators were led by defensive back Joe Powell who, for the second time in as many games, intercepted two passes, including the game-winner in which he returned 52 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Dennis Havrilla led the way on the offensive side of the ball, throwing for 219 yards and five touchdowns in his debut with the Gladiators.

After a Gladiators turnover on the opening kickoff, Tampa Bay used four plays to go 17 yards capped off with a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Adam Kennedy. A missed extra point by kicker Craig Peterson put Tampa Bay up 6-0 early. After another turnover on the ensuing possession, the Storm marched 43 yards on eight plays finished off by an 18-yard strike from Kennedy to wide receiver Phillip Barnett. Peterson would miss the extra point once again, making the score 12-0 Tampa Bay at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw the momentum shift toward the direction of the Gladiators as Havrilla finished off a six-play, 42 yard drive by finding wide receiver Thyron Lewis for a nine-yard score. On the next possession, jack linebacker Arvell Nelson picked off a Kennedy pass to set up first and goal from the four. On the next play, Havrilla found wide receiver Collin Taylor for the score. Kicker Adrian Trevino’s extra point gave the Gladiators their first lead of the game, 14-12.

On the next drive, Kennedy would be picked off by Powell, his first of two interceptions on the night. The Cleveland offense would give it right back a few plays later when Havrilla was picked off by Tampa Bay defensive back Cortez Stubbs to close the first half of play.

The Storm would respond to open the second half as quarterback Jonathan Bane, filling in for the injured Kennedy, found wide receiver V’Keon Lacey for an eight-yard touchdown to give Tampa Bay back the lead, 19-14. The Gladiators would answer quickly as Havrilla hit a wide open Taylor for his second touchdown of the game, a 19-yard to give Cleveland the lead once more, 21-19. Tampa Bay’s offense would counter again with Bane finding Lacey for a three-yard touchdown at the end of the third quarter to put the Storm back in front, 26-21.

The lead exchanges would continue into the fourth quarter as Havrilla would hit Lewis for his second touchdown of the night, a 19-yarder, as the Gladiators reclaimed the lead, 28-26. The Storm’s next drive would stall out at the Cleveland 10-yard line, leaving Peterson to boot a 25-yard field goal to give Tampa Bay a 29-28 lead with 3:46 left to play.

On Cleveland’s next drive, Havrilla would hook up with Taylor for the third time in the game for a 26-yard touchdown to give the Gladiators another lead, 34-29 with just under a minute left in the ball game. On Tampa Bay’s final drive, Bane’s desperation pass to the end zone with nine seconds left was picked off again by Powell and returned for the game-sealing touchdown.

Up next for the Gladiators is a home date with the Los Angeles KISS next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The game will air live on CBS Sports Network and can be heard on 92.3 The Fan.

Post-Game awards:

Offensive Player of the Game: CLE, #12, Dennis Havrilla (QB), 23/34, 219 yards, 5 TD’s, 1 INT
Defensive Player of the Game: CLE, #21, Joe Powell (DB), 8 tackles, two interceptions, one defensive touchdown
Playmaker: CLE, #6, Thyron Lewis (WR), 10 receptions, 94 yards, and two touchdowns
Catch: CLE, #21, Joe Powell (DB), 52-yard interception return for touchdown in fourth quarter to make score, 41-29
Highlight: CLE, #21, Joe Powell (DB), also his 52-yard interception return for touchdown in fourth quarter to close out the win, 41-29

Tickets for every Gladiators home game start at just $9 and are on sale now! Full and partial season ticket memberships are also available and provide you with the best seat locations, custom member benefits and the lowest ticket prices. Group outing and birthday bash packages for 10 or more people are also on sale now. All tickets can be purchased by visiting, calling (216) 420-0000, visiting The Q Box Office or any Northern Ohio Discount Drug Mart. Be sure to follow the Gladiators on Twitter @clegladiators and on Facebook at

The Cleveland Gladiators are part of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization and also owned by a group led by Cavaliers Majority Owner and Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert. The group also owns and operates the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League playing at Quicken Loans Arena and the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League playing in nearby Canton, Ohio at the Canton Civic Center.