Press release from the Cleveland Gladiators
PHOENIX, Ariz. – In the team’s final game of the 2016 AFL regular season, the Cleveland Gladiators were defeated by the Arizona Rattlers on Sunday at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Ariz., by a final score of 68-20 in front of 12,823 fans. With the loss, the Gladiators finished the campaign at 7-9 to end the year in third place in the AFL’s National Conference standings. Cleveland will face the second-place LA KISS on the road in the first round of the AFL Postseason on August 6th with the time of the game currently TBD.
After the Rattlers registered a safety on the Gladiators’ first play from scrimmage, Arizona’s Anthony Amos returned the ensuing Cleveland kickoff 56 yards for a touchdown to give the Rattlers a 9-0 edge. Arizona pushed their lead to 15-0 less than five minutes into the game when Rattlers QB Nick Davila connected with WR Rod Windsor for an 11-yard touchdown strike.
The Gladiators responded with a 16-yard touchdown pass from QB Arvell Nelson to WR Larry Beavers to make it a one-score game, but multiple Cleveland turnovers led to 20 unanswered Arizona points to make it 35-7 Rattlers late in the second quarter. With just over two minutes remaining before halftime, the Gladiators’ offense perked up and delivered a 16-yard Nelson touchdown toss to wideout Collin Taylor that extended Taylor’s franchise-record streak to 32 consecutive games with at least one touchdown reception. Arizona added a late second quarter Davila-to-Windsor score, however, to take a 42-14 lead into halftime.
From the start of the third quarter into the early stages of the final frame, Arizona piled up three more unanswered scores to make it 61-14 before Taylor reeled in another Gladiators TD, this time from backup QB Stephen Panasuk, to make it 61-20. The touchdown pass was Panasuk’s first in his AFL career and it came with just 6:05 remaining in the game. A nine-yard TD pass from backup signal-caller Shane Boyd to Windsor with 2:30 remaining in the fourth quarter was the cherry on top for Arizona in a 68-20 Rattlers victory.
Nelson threw for 155 yards on 13-of-34 passing with two touchdowns, while Taylor led all Cleveland receivers with six receptions for 88 yards and two scores and Beavers caught five balls for 71 yards and one TD. On the other side, Davila turned in a 223-yard performance on 20-of-25 passing with six touchdowns and one interception, hauled in by Gladiators DB Joe Powell in the first half. Arizona’s Windsor reeled in seven catches for 75 yards and five scores while Amos led all Rattler receivers with 96 yards on six receptions. Arizona WR Maurice Purify was solid as well, catching five passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns.
Next up for the Gladiators, it’s a Week 18 bye prior to the start of the AFL Postseason. The Gladiators will face their National Conference rivals, the LA KISS, in the first round on August 6th, with the time of the game currently TBD.
– ClevelandGladiators.com –