Gladiators Fall 74-41 in Jacksonville

Six turnovers forced by the Jacksonville Sharks (7-6) led to the Cleveland Gladiators (7-7) suffering a 74-41 loss at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena Saturday night.  Despite the loss, Gladiators receiver Collin Taylor posted three receiving touchdowns, vaulting his team-leading total to 30.  The 74 points allowed by the Gladiators was the most in a single game this season.  Next up for the Gladiators is a bye week, followed by a road matchup with the Philadelphia Soul on Saturday, July 11th at 1:00 p.m.  The Gladiators have four games remaining in the regular season, with the final three at Quicken Loans Arena.

Jacksonville bolted out to a 14-0 lead after scoring on their opening drive and taking possession off an interception thrown by Gladiators quarterback Shane Austin with Cleveland in the red zone with 11:18 left in the first quarter.  Jacksonville capitalized on Austin’s first interception, as Sharks quarterback Tommy Grady found the Arena Football League’s leading receiver, Tiger Jones, for a 37-yard touchdown pass.  Austin rebounded and put the Gladiators on the board on the following possession when he scampered in for a two-yard touchdown run to his right.  Before the first quarter ended, Jacksonville added another touchdown to take a 20-7 lead into the second frame.

The Gladiators held Jacksonville to just six second quarter points despite committing a pair of interceptions in the frame.  With 1:12 left in the second quarter, Taylor found the end zone for the first of his three touchdowns on a nine-yard pass from Austin, who finished the game with 211 yards passing on 16 of 25 passing; he also finished with three interceptions.  The Gladiators trailed 26-14 heading into halftime after stopping Jacksonville’s Derrick Ross, the AFL’s all-time rushing leader, just feet from the end zone as the half expired.

Down 12 and receiving the second half’s opening kickoff, the Gladiators executed a four-play, 49 yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to Amarri Jackson.  Adrian Trevino’s extra point pulled the Gladiators to within five points, which was the closest the Gladiators would get to Jacksonville on two occasions in the second half.  Jacksonville responded with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Joe Hills to extend their lead to 32-21 with 9:53 left in the third quarter, and after Jackson returned a kickoff to the Sharks six following the touchdown, the Gladiators scored on a six-yard pass to Taylor.  The Gladiators attempted a two-point conversion that would have pulled them to within three points, but the attempt was foiled and the Gladiators trailed 32-27 with 7:38 left in the third quarter. 

After the missed two-point conversion, Jacksonville scored three straight touchdowns to take a 53-27 lead.  Overall, the Gladiators were outscored 48-27 in the second half and 28-14 in the fourth quarter as the Sharks ultimately won 74-41.

The Gladiators are back on the field Saturday  July 11th at 1:00 p.m. in Philadelphia, and the next Gladiators home game is Saturday, July 18th at 6:00 p.m. against Orlando.

NOTES: The Gladiators have lost back-to-back games… Thyron Lewis led the Gladiators with 120 receiving yards… Jackson had seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown for the Gladiators… Dominic Jones led the Gladiators with five total tackles… The Gladiators finished the season series against Jacksonville with an 0-2 record; the Sharks topped the Gladiators 46-43 on May 8th at Quicken Loans Arena… Follow the Gladiators on Twitter @CLEGladiators, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/clevelandgladiators, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/clevelandgladiators.