07/22/2011 7:41 PM
CLEVELAND – In a game with nine lead changes, the Utah Blaze were the last to score with four seconds left as they defeated the Cleveland Gladiators, 76-69, in front of 6,019 at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday night. The Gladiators complete the 2011 regular season and go into the AFL Playoffs at 10-8 and with the most wins in franchise history. Utah ends their campaign at 9-9.
With the second seed in the American Conference locked, Cleveland quarterback Kurt Rocco went 10-for-15 for 118 yards and four passing scores just playing in the first half. In relief, Troy Weatherhead was equally on point as he went 10-of-14 for 178 yards and four touchdowns. Neither quarterback threw an interception.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game Todd Hammel threw an interception on Utah’s opening drive, but settled in to lead the Blaze to victory and never turning the ball over for the remainder of the contest. Hammel finished 31-of-44 for 355 yards and seven touchdowns. Alvance Robinson proved to be his main target by grabbing nine passes for 117 yards and four scores. Justin Ore caught three touchdowns on the night.
JLS Ironman of the Game Robert Redd had 249 all-purpose yards for Cleveland (111 receiving, 138 kick return) to go along with his three receiving scores. Fellow wideout Dominick Goodman had game highs in catches and yards with 12 and 144 respectively to add to his four touchdowns through the air. Redd and Goodman became the second duo to each have over three receiving touchdowns in a single game for the Gladiators this season. Troy Bergeron (five) and Goodman (three) each did it in a win over San Jose on June 25th.
Defensively for Cleveland, Levy Brown led the way with 9.5 total tackles and an interception. Anthony Hoke extended his franchise record for blocked kicks in a season by denying his sixth. Tim Cheatwood tallied a sack, giving him 12.5, and is currently tied for the most in the Arena Football league this year.
The loss was the first for the Gladiators when scoring over 61 points in a game this season. It was also just their second defeat at home in 2011. They previously hadn’t lost since April 16th and finish a franchise-best 7-2 in The Q this season.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game- Blaze QB Todd Hammel
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game- Gladiators DB Levy Brown
JLS Ironman of the Game- Gladiators WR Robert Redd
Cutters Catch of the Game- Robert Redd one-handed grab over defender in 3rd quarter
Nifty Playmaker of the Game- Gladiators WR Robert Redd
Spalding Highlight of the Game- Robert Redd’s 47-yard TD reception in the 4th quarter
National Guard MVP- Blaze QB Todd Hammel
The 2011 East Division Champion Cleveland Gladiators begin their quest for ArenaBowl XXIV at home on Sunday, July 31st at 3:00 p.m.! TICKETS FOR OPENING ROUND HOME PLAYOFF GAME ARE ON SALE NOW! For more information, visit www.clevelandgladiators.com or call 216.685.9000 today!
--2011 GLADIATORS FOOTBALL – CATCH IT LIVE!--