Gladiators Travel to Tampa for Postseason Showdown
Tonight, the third-seeded Cleveland Gladiators (5-9) kick off the Semi-Final Round of the 2017 AFL Playoffs vs. the second-seeded Tampa Bay Storm (10-4) at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. The Gladiators posted a 1-3 record vs. the Storm in the regular season, falling to Tampa Bay in Week 1 at The Q by a final score of 46-40, in Week 3 at Amalie Arena by a 62-61 final and in Week 16 on the road by a final score of 57-27. Cleveland defeated the Storm at home in Week 14 by a final score of 41-39.
LAST TIME OUT
In Week 17, the Gladiators defeated the Washington Valor on the road by a final score of 62-28. Glads QB Arvell Nelson provided 207 yards through the air on 16/26 passing, along with six touchdown throws and one interception. Three Cleveland receivers posted at least one touchdown grab in the win with Collin Taylor notching five catches for 66 yards and three scores, Michael Preston supplying five catches for 65 yards and two scores and Lonnie Outlaw finding the end zone from 34 yards out on his only catch of the game. Gladiators FB Jeramie Richardson picked up 16 rushing yards and two touchdowns on nine attempts in the victory, while Cleveland’s defense turned in a stellar performance as well. Defensive backs Marrio Norman and Brandon Stephens each supplied an interception while MLB Derrick Summers earned AFL Defensive Player of the Week honors providing a single-game league-wide season-high four sacks, along with a safety and five solo tackles in the victory.
WHO TO WATCH: GLADIATORS
Cleveland QB Arvell Nelson finished the regular season ranked third league-wide in quarterback rating (114.7) and second in carries (51), rushing yards (221) and rushing touchdowns (12). In the receiving corps, WR Quentin Sims’ 1,071 regular-season receiving yards ranked fourth-most league-wide and his 24 touchdown catches ranked third-most in the AFL. Defensively, MLB Derrick Summers’ 7.0 sacks ranked fifth-most in the league in the regular season while DL Nick Seither (6.5 sacks, T6th) and DL Darryl Cato-Bishop (6.0 sacks, T5th) also ranked in the league’s top-ten in sacks. Meanwhile, JLB Terence Moore’s four regular-season interceptions ended the regular season tied for fifth-most in the AFL.
WHO TO WATCH: STORM
Tampa Bay QB Randy Hippeard ended the regular season as the AFL leader in completions (328), attempts (494) and passing yards (3,506), and ranked second in completion percentage (66.4%), touchdown throws (80) and quarterback rating (119.8). Meanwhile, Storm WR Joe Hills led the AFL in the regular season in receptions (129), receiving yards (1,353) and touchdown catches (36) while WR Kendrick Ings ranked second league-wide with 98 receptions, third in receiving yards (1,141) and fifth in touchdown grabs (22). Ings also capped the season as the AFL leader in kick return touchdowns (4) and the league’s second-leading return man in terms of attempts (49) and return yards (1,063). On the defensive side of the ball, former Gladiator, JLB Alvin Ray Jackson ranked tied for fifth in the AFL with four interceptions during the regular season.