07/04/2011 5:01 PM
The Cleveland Gladiators pulled out a close win against the Milwaukee Mustangs, 62-58, on Saturday night at the Bradley Center in front of 5,633 fans. The Gladiators improved to 9-6 with the win, and put them a full game ahead of the Pittsburgh Power in the East Division standings. With the loss, the Mustangs dropped to 4-11.
Quarterback Kurt Rocco had a huge game on Saturday night with his seven combined touchdowns. He finished the game 20-of-36 for 257 yards and four touchdowns. He also ran the ball three times for 12-yards and three touchdowns, including the game winning eight-yard run.
The wide receiving core of Troy Bergeron, Robert Redd and Dominick Goodman split the receptions on the night with great effectiveness. Bergeron caught seven passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Goodman also caught seven passes, but for 88 yards and one score. Redd rounded out the crew with six receptions, 56 yards and one touchdown.
Specialist Quorey Payne was vital in the game, as he was able to give Cleveland great positioning when they started their drives. Payne returned seven kickoffs for a total of 133 yards, which works out to 19 yards per return.
The game began with the Gladiators receiving the ball and taking a 7-0 lead. The touchdown came after an eight yard pass by Rocco to Goodman. The Mustangs would come right back to tie it up at 7-7. Quarterback Gino Guidugli completed a six yard pass to Dway Eley Jr.
Near the end of the first quarter, Rocco would make his one mistake of the game when he threw an errant pass that was intercepted by Antonio Malone. Milwaukee was able to cash in on the interception just three plays later when Guidugli connected with Eley Jr. for their second connection of the night.
The rest of the second quarter would go back and forth with the two teams tied going into half time, 21-21. Rocco would score one of the touchdowns off of a one yard run. The Mustangs’ touchdown would come after an eight yard pass from Guidugli to former Gladiator Victor Williams. The last score would come by Anthony Hoke after he recovered a fumble and took it back five yards for a touchdown.
The third quarter would be a big one for Cleveland with them scoring 21 points to Milwaukee’s seven to put the Gladiators up 42-28. Milwaukee would strike first with a one yard run by Justin Lawrence.
Cleveland would then rip off the next three scores. The first was a 29-yard catch by Bergeron from Rocco. The next was a 22-yard catch by Redd from Rocco. The final touchdown was by jack linebacker, Mike Bragg. He intercepted Guidugli and ran the ball back 16-yards for a score. The interception gives Bragg his fifth interception of the year, which leads the team and ties the franchise record for most picks in a single season.
The fourth and final quarter was full of touchdowns. In the fourth quarter alone, Cleveland scored 20 points and Milwaukee scored 30 to make the final score of the game 62-58, Gladiators.
Cleveland was losing the game with 41 seconds left, but was able to score in 38 seconds to give them the go ahead score. The score came by an eight-yard rush by Rocco after he scrambled around in the pocket and was able to find an opening.
The Mustangs were led by Guidugli, who also had a combined seven touchdowns in the game. On the night, he completed 23-of-33 passes for 285 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran the ball three times for ten yards and two touchdowns.
Eley Jr. had a huge game for Milwaukee. He had eight receptions for 143 yards and four of the five touchdowns on the night. The other touchdown pass was caught by Williams who added 87 yards through the air.
Coming into the game, these two teams had ranked very high on defense in almost every statistical category. The Mustangs ranked first in pass defense (241.9), first in total defense (259.0), third in red zone defense (73.0%), third in rushing defense (17.1), fifth in scoring defense (47.1), and fifth in pass defense efficiency (99.5).
The Gladiator on the other hand, ranked first in scoring defense (43.1), first in opponent fourth down conversions (34.5%), first in red zone defense (69.0%), second in pass defense (245.7), sixth in total defense (274.3) and seventh in defensive passer efficiency (102.6).
Milwaukee’s defense was led by Antonio Malone who had 6.5 total tackles (six unassisted and one assisted) and the Mustangs’ only interception on the night. Also for the defense was Kelvin Rodgers, who recorded 5.5 tackles (five unassisted and one assisted).
Cleveland’s defense was led by defensive back Levy Brown who had 8.5 tackles (eight unassisted and one assisted) on the night. Tim Cheatwood filled the stat book with his two solo tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
The Gladiators have a crucial East Division matchup with the Philadelphia Soul on NFL Network for their next game on Friday, July 8 at 8:00 pm at the Wells Fargo Center.