The Cleveland Gladiators defeated the Jacksonville Sharks 41-40, in a game where the Gladiators were down since early in the first quarter until quarterback Arvill Nelson hit Collin Taylor for a 26 yard touchdown with 33 seconds left in the 4th quarter.
“Collin Taylor had a real nice release and got by his man, and even a better catch,” Coach Steve Thonn said on the play.
The play put the gladiators up for the first time since 1:16 left in the first quarter.
The game was no where near finished as the Sharks stormed down the field looking for the final shot to take down the Gladiators. The Sharks thought they had it as kicker Marco Capozzoli lined up for the game winning 30 yard field goal with no time left on the clock.
“(Capozzoli) had been struggling all night (4-6 on extra points) so we figured it would be better to not onside kick it and let him take a chance to beat us,” Thonn said.
It was the right call, as Capozzoli missed the field goal wide left to seal the victory for the Gladiators and snap the three game losing streak they were on coming into this game.
“We needed this win,” said Thonn. ” The guys have been working hard in practice and we feel like we are getting better so it was good to pull it all together.”
The Gladiators were down in the game 40-21 with 2:45 left in the third quarter before climbing back with three straight touchdowns in the fourth to set up the victory.
Gladiator quarterback Arvell Nelson, a former Glenville High School quarterback, completed 17 of 30 passes for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns. Nelson added 2 rushing touchdowns in the win.
“God, gave me many gifts so I am going to use everyone of them including my legs,” Nelson said.
Nelson was able to keep the Gladiators in the game with his legs while not having many designed run play called for him, according to Thonn.
“I thought his runs were smart, and some of those runs really saved us,” said Thonn.
The first two Cleveland touchdowns were Nelson runs as the play broke down and he was able see daylight in the end zone. Then Nelson let his arm take over and distribute the ball to his recievers.
Taylor came down with 6 catches, 101 yards and two touchdowns for the Gladiators along with Quintin Sims who added 61 yards and a touchdown.
Joe Hills stepped up for the Sharks with 14 catches for 131 yards and four touchdowns. Sharks quarterback Tommy Grady completed 26-42 for 241 yards and five touchdowns.
Next the Gladiators take on Portland, May 16 at the Q, while Jacksonville will head home for their bye week before taking on Portland on May 21.