Gladiators Fall in Shootout with Rattlers

CLEVELAND – In front of 11,797 fans at Quicken Loans Arena for the last time in the 2016 regular season, the Cleveland Gladiators fell on Friday night to the Arizona Rattlers, 77-62. With the loss the Gladiators record drops to 5-5 on the season where they remain in second place in the National Conference. Quarterback Arvell Nelson combined for eight touchdowns (seven passing/one rushing) in the loss, while wide receiver Quentin Sims caught 11 passes for 84 yards and three touchdowns. Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila threw for 289 yards and nine scores in the win, with wide receiver Rod Windsor catching four of those along with eight receptions for 86 yards.

It was the Gladiators who got on the board first when Nelson found wide receiver Collin Taylor in the corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass, giving Cleveland the early 7-0 lead. The touchdown extended Taylor’s streak to 26 straight games hitting pay dirt. The former Arena Football League MVP Davila answered on the next series, finding Windsor for a 22-yard touchdown, tying the game 7-7. On the next drive, Nelson capped off a 10-play, 45-yard drive that took up 7:55 of the first quarter, by connecting with Sims on an impressive one-handed, two-yard touchdown catch up against the back wall, giving the Gladiators the lead once again, 14-7.

The Rattlers responded again on the first drive of the second quarter when Davila hooked up with wide receiver Maurice Purify for a 12-yard scoring strike to even up the score once again, 14-14. Cleveland kept the score-trading trend going when Nelson found wide receiver Devin Wilson for his first career catch, a 22-yard touchdown on fourth-and-10 to push the Gladiators back in front of Arizona, 21-14, with 6:46 remaining in the half. Windsor caught his second touchdown pass of the game on the ensuing possession for Arizona, a 2-yard strike from Davila to once again knot the score up at 21-21. After a failed onside kick attempt from kicker Alex Zendejas, Nelson hit Sims on the following play for an eight-yard touchdown. Kicker Adrian Trevino’s extra point pushed Cleveland in front 28-21 with 1:50 left in the first half.

The Rattlers quickly answered as Davila hit wide receiver Chase Deadder on a 32-yard touchdown on the first play of their next series, evening things up at 28. After another failed onside kick attempt from Zendejas, Nelson would connect with offensive lineman D.J. Brandel for a nine-yard touchdown. A missed extra point from Trevino made the score 34-28 Gladiators. After another failed onside kick attempt from Trevino this time, Davila and Windsor hooked up for Windsor’s third touchdown of the game giving Arizona their first lead of the game, 35-34 with 44 seconds remaining in the half. However, yet another failed onside kick led to another Cleveland touchdown as Nelson completed a 12-yard pass to Sims, leading to a score and a 41-35 Gladiators lead with 28 seconds left to play in the second quarter. Arizona concluded first-half scoring with a touchdown pass from Davila to fullback Mykel Benson to give the Rattlers a 42-41 lead at the break.

Arizona started fast in second half when Davila threw a 19-yard touchdown strike to Purify, his second of the game to increase the Rattler lead to 49-41. After the teams traded turnovers on downs, Nelson found Taylor for his second touchdown of the game, a 23-yarder to close the gap to 49-48 with 4:47 left in the third quarter. On the next series, a bubble screen from Davila saw Windsor scamper 16 yards into the end zone to extend the Rattlers lead to 56-48.

Benson would tack on two more touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to distance themselves from the Gladiators, 70-48, with 11:20 remaining in the contest. The Gladiators would end that run when wide receiver Larry Beavers scored on a reverse to close the Rattler lead to 70-55. The Rattlers would tack on one final score when Davila found offensive lineman Michael Simons on fourth down for a 17-yard screen for a touchdown, once again extending their lead to 77-55 with 2:30 remaining in the game. The Gladiators would add on one more touchdown when Nelson plunged into the end zone from one-yard out to finish the scoring, 77-62.

Next up, the Gladiators travel to Orlando to take on the Predators next Saturday, June 11th at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3 and can be heard live on 92.3 The Fan.

Offensive Player - #10 Nick Davila – 23-33 for 289 yards and nine touchdowns

Defensive Player - #3 Demarcus Robinson – 5.5 tackles and a pass break-up

Playmaker - #1 Rod Windsor – 8 receptions for 86 yards and four touchdowns

Catch of the Game - #18 Quentin Sims – Touchdown reception in the first quarter

Highlight - #17 Collin Taylor – 23-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter