By Spencer Lee
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The pressure to succeed grows heavier by the week in the Arena Football League. With only five teams in the league this year, only four will make the playoffs and have a shot at ArenaBowl 30.
After losing three straight games, the Cleveland Gladiators (2-6) needed a win to stay in the hunt for the postseason, and they got it Saturday night with a 59-35 win over the Washington Valor (1-6) to move them to No. 4 in the AFL standings.
It seemed like the “Cleveland Cannon” Arvell Nelson couldn’t miss from under center, going 21-for-28 for 260 yards and five touchdowns, three of which went to Michael Preston, who led the team with 12 receptions for 105 yards. Quentin Sims contributed 92 yards on four catches with a touchdown, and fullback Jeramie Richardson added an extra boost with a surprising 48 yards rushing and three touchdowns. The most impressive stat, however, was the fact the Gladiator offense committed zero turnovers and scored on every drive until they ran out the final 2:34 to seal the victory.
Cleveland’s defense provided the excitement for Red Nation. Nick Seither recorded his fourth sack of the year, and Rayshaun Kizer, Frederick Obi and Terence Moore all picked off Valor quarterback Sean Brackett. Obi also led the team with six tackles and two pass breakups.
For the Valor, Bracket finished with 292 yards and four touchdowns, including two apiece to Josh Reese, who led the team with eight catches for 110 yards, and Greg Carr, who finished with 80 yards on seven receptions.
The Gladiators have one more game on the road with another trip to Philadelphia to play the undefeated Soul. Kickoff is next Saturday, June 10th, at 7PM from the Wells Fargo Center.