JACKSONVILLE, FL – Thanks to six total touchdowns from QB Arvell Nelson, five combined touchdown receptions from WR’s Collin Taylor and Devin Wilson and three turnovers forced by their defense, the Cleveland Gladiators defeated the Jacksonville Sharks by a final score of 48-47 on Saturday in front of 10,645 fans at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL. With the win, the Gladiators swept the Sharks in the two teams’ two-game season series, have won six of their past eight games, are now 7-6 on the year and remain alone in second place in the AFL’s National Conference standings.
Nelson and Taylor opened the scoring by connecting on a seven-yard touchdown strike early in the first quarter before Jacksonville QB Tommy Grady sailed a 42-yard TD pass into the hands of Sharks WR Joe Hills on the ensuing possession to tie the game at seven. After a one-yard Nelson rush made it 13-7 Gladiators, the Sharks tied the game on a four-yard TD pass from Grady to Hills at the start of the second quarter.
Cleveland DB Joe Phinisee returned a fumble by Grady for the Gladiators’ league-best ninth defensive score of the season on the ensuing Jacksonville possession and led 20-13 before a 33-yard Nelson-to-Taylor scoring strike with 41 seconds remaining in the half gave Cleveland their largest lead at 27-13. The catch was Taylor’s 400th career AFL grab and the Indiana native’s 100th career AFL TD catch.
The Sharks proceeded to rattle off 27 straight points to take a 40-27 lead before Nelson and Devin Wilson hooked up for a 12-yard score early in the fourth quarter to make it 40-34 until Jacksonville WR London Crawford found the end zone on a one-yard TD run that made it 47-34 with less than eight minutes remaining in the game. With time winding down in the fourth quarter, Nelson and Wilson struck again, this time for a 25-yard bomb with less than six minutes left to draw within one score at 47-41.
Then, with just 47 seconds left in regulation, Nelson and Wilson combined for Wilson’s third TD grab of the game, a four-yard connection, to put the Gladiators on top 48-47, but left former AFL MVP Grady and Jacksonville with plenty of time with which to work. After the Sharks marched all the way to the Cleveland two-yard line on the ensuing possession, Phinisee iced the win with his second fumble recovery of the game with just ten seconds left to play to deliver the Gladiators a one-point victory.
Following a Week 14 bye, next up for the Gladiators, it’s a Week 15 road clash vs. the Philadelphia Soul with full coverage, live from the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, underway on Saturday, July 9th at 6:00 pm on 92.3 The Fan.
Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game: Jacksonville WR Joe Hills – 14 rec., 157 yds., 5 TDs
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Cleveland DB Joe Phinisee – 2 fumble recoveries, 1 fumble return for TD
J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game: Cleveland WR Collin Taylor – 8 rec., 134 yds., 2 TDs
Cutters Catch of the Game: Cleveland WR Collin Taylor – 33-yard TD catch with 41 seconds remaining in the second quarter – Taylor’s 400th career AFL reception and 100th career AFL TD grab.
AFL Highlight of the Game: Cleveland DB Joe Phinisee – game-saving fumble recovery on his own two-yard line with ten seconds remaining in regulation.
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.
– ClevelandGladiators.com –