By: Gladiators Press Release
07/31/2011 3:33 PM
Woodard - Aaron Josefczyk
CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Gladiators’ 2011 season came to an end on a 50-41 defeat by the Georgia Force in the opening round of the AFL playoffs in front of 4,948 on Sunday afternoon. The Gladiators finished 10-9 and with the first division championship in franchise history. The Force improved to 12-7 and will move on to the American Conference Championship against the Jacksonville Sharks.
After back and forth scoring for much of the first half, Georgia was able to swing the momentum majorly in their favor just before intermission. On a missed field goal return by Cleveland, Robert Redd lateralled back to Joe Phinisee, who fumbled the ball in attempt for progress that was scooped up by Mike Johnson and returned two yards into the end zone, setting the score at 21-20.
The touchdown spurned a 26-0 run by the Force that lasted into the fourth quarter, giving them a 40-21 lead. Quarterback John Dutton came in relief, leading Cleveland to three consecutive scoring drives. The Georgia offense was too strong, however, answering each drive with a score until they were able to run out the clock for the win.
For Cleveland, Troy Bergeron had 10 catches for 119 yards and three scores in the contest. Nifty Playmaker of the Game Robert Redd caught eight passes for 97 yards and three touchdowns. In Dutton’s first appearance since a Week 2 win over Spokane, he completed eight of 12 passes for 114 yards and three scores.
Georgia quarterback Darnell Kennedy threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns while adding 20 yards rushing and a score in the victory. Riddell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game Maurice Purify nabbed seven grabs for 91 yards and two scores. Hawkins and Johnson each had fumble recoveries for touchdowns for the defense.
Anthony Hoke blocked his seventh kick of 2011, further extending his franchise record. Hoke also added a sack and forced fumble for the Gladiators’ only turnover forced in the contest. They came into the game ranked third at a +19 turnover margin. Cleveland surrendered the football four times.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game- WR Maurice Purify - GEO
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game- DB Ahmad Hawkins - GEO
JLS Ironman of the Game- WR C.J. Johnson - GEO
Cutters Catch of the Game- Redd TD reception off the defender in the 2nd quarter
Nifty Playmaker of the Game- WR Robert Redd - CLE
Spalding Highlight of the Game- Hawkins fumble return for a TD in the 3rd quarter
National Guard MVP- WR Maurice Purify - GEO
The 2011 East Division Champion Cleveland Gladiators would like to thank all of their fans around Northeast Ohio for their support! DEPOSITS FOR 2012 SEASON TICKETS ARE BEING ACCEPTED NOW! For more information, visit www.clevelandgladiators.com or call 216.685.9000 today!
--2011 GLADIATORS FOOTBALL – CATCH IT LIVE!--