CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) - If the Cleveland Gladiators are going to win back-to-back Eastern Division titles, they have some work to do.
Tiger Jones caught three touchdowns and Derrick Ross ran for two more scores as the Philadelphia Soul cruised to a 55-33 victory Sunday afternoon at Quicken Loans Arena.
“We just didn’t play well on offense,” coach Steve Thonn said. “We didn’t execute. We had a chance to hit a couple of deep throws early in the game that we missed on.
“It was just a very poor offensive performance.”
Philadelphia blew the game open in the second half by scoring 27 unanswered points to take a 48-19 lead with 13:28 to play in the game.
Jones helped the Soul run out to an early 21-6 lead by catching all three of Philadelphia’s first half scores from quarterback Dan Raudabaugh.
Cleveland countered with a pair of touchdowns and a goal line stand before the half.
John Dutton found Dominic Goodman for a 33-yard touchdown strike and Levy Brown came up with a 20-yard pick six of Raudabaugh to cut the deficit to 21-19 at intermission.
It would be the closest the Gladiators would get the rest of the way.
“We definitely took it on the chin tonight,” Dutton said. “Things weren’t clicking, we weren’t executing. You have to give Philly credit, they played well.”
Dutton completed 10 of 23 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns while the offense sputtered. They fumbled twice and turned the ball over on downs three more times.
“We’ve got to get better offensively,” Dutton said. “We’re not taking advantage of our defense and how good they are. We shouldn’t be 6-4 with the defense that we have.
“Offensively it’s on us. Coach called us out after the game and it’s on us to get better.”
The Gladiators were unable to generate any rhythm or momentum while the Soul ran up and down the field at will all afternoon.
Ross ran the ball 21 times for Philadelphia racking up 66 yards and the two scores on the ground.
“He’s a really good rusher and once they got the lead they were able to milk that,” Thonn said. “He was pretty effective but I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that they had the lead.”
With the game already decided, Thonn pulled Dutton to give backup Matt Bassuener some work in the fourth quarter.
Bassuener completed three of his seven passes for 33 yards and a 10 yard touchdown to Dominick Goodman to close out the scoring.
Robert Redd extended his consecutive games with a touchdown streak to 13 dating back to 2011 by catching Dutton’s first touchdown of the day that put the Gladiators up 6-0 in the first quarter.
With the win Philadelphia, who now leads the Eastern Division by 1.5 games, improves to 8-3 while the Gladiators fall to 6-4.