#50YARDCOUNTDOWN: 16-Zbydniewski Stuns Soul in Overtime

Coming through in the clutch for the sweetest win of the season.

DISTANCE: 16 yards

PLAYERS: Brian Zbydniewski and Thyron Lewis

DATE: April 20, 2013 vs. Philadelphia Soul

FINAL SCORE: Gladiators 64, Soul 57


#50 Yard Countdown


This game was a call to arms. To face Philadelphia's Dan Raudabaugh, who was just beginning his prime in the AFL after throwing for 205 touchdowns in the past two years, the Cleveland Gladiators needed a man with a cannon to compete.

Enter Brian Zbydniewski. The fourth-year quarterback had set multiple records for the Belhaven Blazers, earning NAIA All-Time All-American and Player of the Year honors his senior year. He was used to playing his heart out when his team needed him most.

In Week 4 of the 2013 season, Zbydniewski outplayed Raudabaugh, throwing for eight touchdowns and running for another, and every point mattered. After Cleveland erased a 14-point deficit twice in the first half, they overtook the dumbfounded Soul in the fourth quarter when Zbydniewski hit wide receiver Jonathan Wilson for a 30-yard strike to go up 47-42 with just under eight minutes left in regulation.

Raudabaugh would not be denied, though, throwing one touchdown with 55 seconds left and, after the Gladiators went back on top on the ensuing drive, struck one last time to put Philadelphia up 57-54 with 10 seconds left.

However, Zbydniewski would have the last laugh, putting the ball in position for kicker Ross Gornall to blast a 45-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired to send the game to overtime.

The Gladiators took possession first, and with the ball on the Soul 16-yard line, wide receiver Thyron Lewis raced forward in motion and, using a hard step to the inside, broke hard to the corner on the sail route. Zbydniewski put the ball in the numbers and the Gladiators had taken a 64-57 lead. Fast-forward the video below to 9:04 to see the play.

Cleveland defensive back Lenny Wicks knocked away a 4th-and-15 Raudabaugh pass to the end zone on Philadelphia's ensuing possession to secure the Gladiators first win of the season.