Gladiators drop nail-biter to brigade, 63-60

BALTIMORE – The Arena Football League’s Cleveland Gladiators, proudly presented by Unique Home Solutions, were defeated by the Baltimore Brigade in Week 8 of the 2017 AFL season on Saturday at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD by a final score of 63-60. With the loss, the Gladiators fell to 1-6 overall this season and currently remain alone in fifth place in the AFL standings.

The Gladiators claimed a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when QB Arvell Nelson connected on a 15-yard scoring strike with WR Quentin Sims before Nelson and Sims combined again, this time from seven yards out, to make it 12-0 Cleveland thanks to a pair of botched extra-point attempts for the Gladiators. Baltimore put themselves on the scoreboard late in the opening quarter when Brigade QB Shane Carden connected with WR Milton Williams from 11 yards out to, after a successful Brigade extra point try, make it 12-7 Gladiators.

In the second quarter, Cleveland picked up right where they left off as a 21-yard strike from Nelson to Sims extended the Glads’ lead to 18-7 after another missed extra point for K Jed Solomon. After Baltimore’s Carden connected with WR Julian Talley on a 39-yard touchdown pass to make it 18-14, the Gladiators faced a fourth-and-eight situation from the Brigade nine yard line late in the second quarter and, thanks to a nine-yard connection between Nelson and WR Collin Taylor, pushed the Cleveland advantage to 25-14. The Brigade battled back and drew within four points at 25-21 following a three-yard Rory Nixon touchdown run with just 2:05 remaining in the opening half. Then, in the final minute of the second quarter, Nelson pushed Cleveland’s edge to 32-21 with a seven-yard rushing touchdown before his counterpart for Baltimore, Carden, responded with a one-yard scoring scamper of his own with just one second remaining to make it 32-28 Gladiators at the half.

In the third quarter, the Brigade started quickly with a 12-yard strike from Carden to Williams to push Baltimore in front for the first time by a score of 34-32. The Gladiators’ response was quick in coming, however, as Nelson and Sims connected on a touchdown pass and catch for the fourth time just seconds after Baltimore’s score, this time from 29 yards out, to reclaim the edge for Cleveland at 39-34.

With just under nine minutes remaining in regulation, the Brigade picked up the fourth quarter’s first score when Carden found Talley in the end zone from 13 yards out to reclaim the lead for the home team at 41-39 following a Nelson interception. Cleveland orchestrated a near-instantaneous response, however, as Nelson connected with Sims for the fifth time on the visitors’ next play from scrimmage, a 47-yard strike that pushed the Gladiators back in front by a score of 46-41 with 7:33 to go in the game. Carden found Browning shortly thereafter for a 42-yard touchdown to make it 49-46 Baltimore, but Nelson and Taylor hooked up for the second time, this time from 31 yards out, on the Glads’ ensuing possession to grab the lead back at 53-49. Baltimore responded with a seven-yard Carden-to-Williams touchdown toss to pull ahead 56-53 though, only to see a one-yard Jeramie Richardson touchdown run pull the visitors back in front 59-56. The Brigade ultimately had the last laugh, however, as a 54-yard Kendel Thompkins kick return touchdown was the difference in a 63-60 Baltimore win.

Next up for the Gladiators, it’s a Saturday road clash vs. the Washington Valor in Week 9 with full coverage, live from Verizon Center in Washington, DC, underway at 7:00 pm on 92.3 The Fan and CBS Sports Network.

NOTES: Nelson finished with 310 yards through the air on 22/32 passing for seven touchdowns and one interception and added seven rushing yards and one rushing touchdown on eight carries…Sims led the Gladiators’ receiving corps with 12 catches for 188 yards and five touchdowns…Taylor caught four passes for 61 yards and two scores while WR Michael Preston hauled in six balls for 61 yards…Richardson carried the ball five times for ten yards and a score…On the defensive side of the ball, DB Fred Obi led the way with six solo tackles and three assists, along with one pass defended while JLB Terence Moore and DB Rayshawn Kizer each provided one interception in defeat.

POST-GAME AWARDS:

Offensive Player of the Game: CLE WR Quentin Sims – 12 rec., 188 rec. yards, five touchdowns.

Defensive Player of the Game: CLE DB Fred Obi – six solo tackles, three assists, one pass defended.

MVP of the Game: BAL QB Shane Carden – 272 yards on 21/30 passing, six touchdowns, two interceptions, four carries, nine rushing yards, one rushing touchdown.

Tickets for every Gladiators home game start at just $10 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. All tickets can be purchased by visiting ClevelandGladiators.com, 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, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clevelandgladiators.

The Gladiators Tailgate Zone will debut on Friday, June 16th when the Gladiators host the Baltimore Brigade at Quicken Loans Arena for a “Summer Picnic at The Q.” The first 10,000 fans to arrive will receive a Gladiators Tumbler presented by Phantom Fireworks. Additionally, there will be two other opportunities for fans to experience the Tailgate Zone during the remaining home games of the 2017 regular season as the team hosts “Go Pink Night” on Saturday June 24th and “Fan Salute Night presented by the Brew Kettle” on Saturday, July 8th.

Fans can purchase all-inclusive Tailgate Zone tickets for only $49 by visiting www.clevelandgladiators.com/tailgatezone or by calling (216) 420-2550.