#50YARDCOUNTDOWN: 45-Williams Shocks the Yard Dawgz
They only needed one big play on offense. The defense could take care of the rest.
He needed this, and the Cleveland Gladiators needed him. The week before against the Spokane Shock, the offense lost Ben Nelson and Chris Johnson, two of the top three leading receivers, to season-ending injuries. Enter 6-foot-4, 225 pound wide receiver Victor Williams.
Williams was looking for a chance to catch the ball. In three seasons at Northern Iowa, he had only caught 73 passes on a Panther team that loved to run the ball in the red zone. A tall receiver with hops usually equates to a red-zone threat, and an imbalanced ratio of runs to passes left Williams wanting more. What better way to see the football than in the Arena Football League.
In his first seven games with the Gladiators that season, Williams only had 16 catches and two touchdowns. But on this night, lining up alongside Brent Holmes, the only starting receiver left, Williams caught fire and became the go-to receiver.
With one minute left in the game, the Gladiators trailed 39-38 after Oklahoma City Yard Dawgs quarterback Xavier Lee found Timon Marshall on an eight-yard scoring strike. Veteran quarterback John Dutton, who had struggled all night, figured one completion would be enough to get his confidence back and possibly win this game. He had already connected with Williams five times in the game and knew if he put the ball in the right spot, the lanky speedster could go get it. Dutton took the snap from the Cleveland 5-yard-line and saw Williams beat his man off the snap. A flick of the wrist put the ball in the right spot, and Williams was wide open for a 45-yard connection with 48 seconds left and a 44-39 Gladiator lead.
Cleveland's defense held strong on the next possession, as they had done the entire game, to preserve the win.