Philadelphia Soul @ Cleveland Gladiators
1st Round Playoffs
Its playoff time at The Q, and for the second time in franchise history the Cleveland Gladiators are in the AFL playoffs. The Gladiators come into the 2014 playoffs, with the most wins ever in AFL history, with 17 victories on the season. They are lead by their MVP candidate QB Shane Austin who has 99 touchdowns on the season. The first team standing in the way of the Gladiators way of an AFL championship is the Philadelphia Soul, who the Gladiators have beat twice this season on last second plays. The Soul will be one of the toughest tests for the Gladiators on the way to an Arena Bowl and if the Gladiators are able to make it that far, they will host the game because of them having the league best record.
On the first play of the game, Gladiators QB Shane Austin throws an interception to Soul DB Rayshaun Kizer. Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh takes the ball after the Gladiators turnover and moves the Soul down the field for their first touchdown of the game to WR V’Keon Lacey. Shane Austin on the next drive for the Gladiators made up for his interception with a Johnny Manziel like run for a Gladiators touchdown, and the Gladiators tie the game up at 6 with 2:39 left in the first quarter. The Soul came right back after the Gladiators touchdown with QB Dan Raudabaugh second touchdown pass of the night to put Soul back up 12-6. On the PAT Gladiators DB Dominic Jones would recover the blocked PAT and return it 48 yard for the two points, cutting the Soul lead to12-8 to end the first quarter.
Shane Austin started the second quarter the same way he did the game with an interception. That would be Austin’s second pick of the game and Soul would take over at the Gladiators 15 yard line. The Gladiators defense came up with a huge stop, as the Soul were looking to score, Gladiators DB Joe Phinisee pick off Dan Raudabaugh in the end zone to give the ball back to the Gladiators. Six plays later Shane Austin would find his favorite target Dominick Goodman for a seven yard touchdown and the Gladiators first lead of the night 15-12 and ending the second quarter.
The Gladiators started the third quarter with a defensive stop and forced the Soul to turn the ball over all downs. Shane Austin would not take advantage of his defensive great play and would throw his third interception of the game. Soul would take over with the ball on their 5 yard line. The third quarter would continue to be about the defense as the Gladiators would stop the Soul on the six yard line and force another turnover on downs. Shane Austin would then throw his fourth interception of the game, the Soul take over on the Gladiators 5 yard line. Two plays later Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh would find Marky White for a touchdown and getting the Soul a 19-15 lead with 2:34 left in the third quarter. But Shane Austin would show that he has a lot of fight left in him when on the next Gladiators drive he would hit Collin Taylor on a 15 yard touchdown pass, putting the Gladiators up 22-19 to end the third quarter.
The Soul were able to drive down the field to start the final quarter of the game, but were only able to get a field goal out of the drive and tying the game at 22 with 8:58 to go in the game. Shane Austin would continue to make bad plays for the Gladiators as he would throw his fifth interception of the night. Then the turnover would finally come back to get the Gladiators as five plays later Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh would throw his 4th touchdown pass to Derrick Ross for a 29-22 Soul lead with 4:30 left in the game. Shane Austin arm was not getting thing done tonight, but he was able to use his legs and scramble for his second rushing touchdown of the night tying the ball game at 29 at piece with two minutes to go in the game. On the next Soul drive the Gladiators defensive would come to the safe Shane Austin, has then would once again stop the Soul and get a turnover on downs. But Shane Austin would keep trying to make up for his arm with his legs has on the second play of the drive Austin would score his third rushing touchdown of the night giving the Gladiators a 36-29 lead with 42 seconds left in the game. The defense that has been keeping the Gladiators in the game the whole night gives up a 47 yard touchdown pass to Emery Sammons to take the lead 37-35 with 25 seconds left in the game. Shane Austin would get one more shot as he more the Gladiators down the field to get kicker Aaron Pettrey into position to hit a game winning 36 yard field goal as time run out. This was Pettrey second game winning of the season. As they say in sports a win is a win, even if it was ugly. The Gladiators hold on to win and move on to the 2nd round of the AFL playoffs. They will play the winner of the Pittsburgh Power and Orlando Predators game at the Q next Sunday night.