TAMPA BAY – In front of 9,722 fans at Amalie Arena, the Cleveland Gladiators held on to defeat the Tampa Bay Storm, 70-63, in overtime on Monday night. The win improves Cleveland’s record to 4-4 as the Gladiators now sit in second place in the National Conference, moving ahead of the Los Angeles KISS. Quarterback Arvell Nelson led the way for the Gladiators offense, combining for six touchdowns (five passing/one rushing) and throwing for 259 yards. Wide receiver Collin Taylor caught eight passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns while wide receiver Quentin Sims caught a career-high 11 passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Storm quarterback Jason Boltus passed for 351 yards while combining for nine touchdowns (eight passing/one rushing) and two interceptions in the loss.
The Storm opened the scoring when Boltus hooked up with veteran wide receiver T.T. Toliver for a 31-yard touchdown on Tampa Bay’s opening drive. Kicker Delbert Alvarado’s extra point gave the Storm an early 7-0 lead. The Gladiators answered right back on the next drive when wide receiver Larry Beavers took a reverse hand-off from Nelson and then, to the defense’s surprise, threw a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Quentin Sims in the corner of the end zone to even things up at 7 with 9:27 remaining in the opening quarter. After Tampa Bay turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession, Nelson found wide receiver Collin Taylor on a quick hit for a six-yard score to give Cleveland their first lead of the night, 13-7 to end the first quarter.
Boltus gave the lead back to the Storm on the first drive of the second quarter by finding wide receiver Phillip Barnett for a 20-yard touchdown, making the score 14-13. Tampa Bay looked to extend their lead after the Gladiators turned the ball over on downs but Boltus’ pass on 3rd-and-10 would be picked off by rookie defensive back Jamie Bender and returned 30 yards for the defensive score, giving Cleveland a 20-14 edge. The Storm offense recovered on the next possession when Boltus found offensive lineman Anthony Parker for an 11-yard score, re-claiming the lead once again for Tampa Bay. Alvarado’s attempted onside kick on the ensuing kick-off backfired when defensive back Joe Powell recovered and stumbled five yards into the end zone for a Cleveland touchdown.
The seesaw battle continued as the Storm struck again when Boltus found wide receiver Julius Gregory for a 13-yard touchdown to tie the game at 28. However, another failed onside kick attempt set up the Gladiators for a quick score when fullback Phillipkeith Manley took a hand-off from Nelson and scored from four yards out to give Cleveland a 35-28 lead. Sticking with the theme of the first half, Gregory would catch a two-yard touchdown from Boltus on the final play of the half to again even the score at 35 going into the break.
The teams traded touchdowns to open the second half when Nelson tossed a 22-yard touchdown to Sims and Boltus finding Toliver for a 23-yard strike. Then, after Nelson scored again, this time on a run from three yards out, Boltus hit Toliver for his third touchdown of the night: this time, a 20-yarder to tie the game up at 49 with 11:29 remaining in the game. The following drive saw Cleveland’s offense turn it over for the first time when Nelson was picked off by defensive back Cortez Stubbs. Six plays later, Boltus plunged into the end zone from one-yard out to give Tampa Bay the lead, 56-49, with 4:34 remaining in the game.
Nelson and the Gladiators offense responded, as Taylor snared a 30-yard touchdown reception at the wall despite being blanketed by coverage, his second of the game, to tie it up once again at 56 with 2:47 remaining in the contest. On the next drive, Boltus connected with Gregory for his third touchdown of the game, a 33-yarder, to give the Storm a 63-56 lead with 54 seconds remaining. Taylor came up big on the next drive, catching a 12-yard touchdown pass, his third of the game, to send the game into overtime tied at 63.
On the first drive of overtime, Nelson connected with Beavers for a 24-yard score to give the Gladiators the lead, 70-63. On Tampa’s possession, defensive back Marvin Ross came through for the second time in as many weeks, intercepting Boltus to seal the game and the victory.
Next up the Gladiators host the Philadelphia Soul in a Week 9 match-up. The third of four meetings between the two teams will take place Saturday, May 28th at 7:00 p.m. and can be seen live on CBS Sports Network and heard on 92.3 The Fan.
Tickets for every Gladiators home game start at just $9 and are on sale now! Full and partial season ticket memberships are also available and provide you with the best seat locations, custom member benefits and the lowest ticket prices. Group outing and birthday bash packages for 10 or more people are also on sale now. All tickets can be purchased by visiting ClevelandGladiators.com, calling (216) 420-0000, visiting The Q Box Office or any Northern Ohio Discount Drug Mart. Be sure to follow the Gladiators on Twitter @clegladiators and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/clevelandgladiators.
The Cleveland Gladiators are part of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization and also owned by a group led by Cavaliers Majority Owner and Quicken Loans Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert. The group also owns and operates the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League playing at Quicken Loans Arena and the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League playing in nearby Canton, Ohio at the Canton Civic Center.