Cleveland Gladiators (18-1) vs. Orlando Predators (12-7)
One more win for the Cleveland Gladiators and they will be hosting the 2014 Arena Bowl in two weeks. The final test for the Gladiators to make it to their first ever Arena Bowl Championship is the Orlando Predators, who come in to the game with the number ranked offense in the AFL. This Orlando offense will be a challenge for the Gladiators third ranked scoring defense. Gladiators QB Shane Austin needs to play better then his last game against the Soul were he threw five interceptions, but still lead his team to a last second field goal from kicker Aaron Pettery that won the game. The final score is all that matters when team gets to this point in the season, and a win is a win know matter how ugly it is.
Shane Austin came out on the first drive of the game against the Predators to show that last week five interceptions was a fluke. After only five plays into the game Shane Austin threw is first touchdown pass of the night hitting wide out Tyron Lewis for a 10 yard touchdown, Gladiators lead 7-0 with 11:15 left in the first quarter. The Predators did not wait long as behind the big play ability of QB Bernard Morris, the Predators matched the Gladiators first drive with a touchdown of their own. Bernard Morris founded wide out Greg Carr for a three yard score tying the game at 7-7. On the next Gladiators drive QB Shane Austin would come right back and find his favorite target Dominick Goodman for a five yard touchdown, Gladiators back up 14-7. The back and forwards game would continue with the Predators second drive as they easily moved down the field and Bernard Morris throws second touchdown pass of the game to wide out Gerald Young. The game was tied again at 14 after one quarter.
Shane Austin would start the second quarter in the same fashion as the last drive for the Gladiators. Austin put together a six play drive that would end in him finding Dominick Goodman for his second touchdown catch of the night and a 21-14 Gladiators lead with 11:45 to go in the second quarter. The Predators would have the ball on the Gladiators one yard line, when once again this season the defense come up back with a big play. Gladiators DB Dominic Jones stripped QB Bernard Morris and then ran the ball back all the way back to the Predators one yard line. On the next play of the game Gladiators OL Jason Jones smacked his way into the end zone for a score. The Gladiators lead by two scores 28-14. Bernard Morris is able to come back after his turnover from the drive before and throw his third touchdown pass of the game to wide out Larry Brackins, Predators trail 28-21 with one minute left in the first half. For the third time in the game QB Shane Austin finds wide out Dominick Goodman for a 14 yard touchdown pass putting the Gladiators up 35-21 over the Predators. The Predators would take only 30 seconds and six plays to get a 10 yard touchdown run from wide out Larry Brackins, pulling the Predators back within one scores of the Gladiators 35-28 to end the first half.
The Predators started with the ball in the second half, but the Gladiators defense came away with their second turnover of the game a tipped pass intercepted by DB Joe Phinisee. But the Predators defense would get the ball right back after Gladiators wide out Dominick Goodman was stripped of the ball by Predators DB Anthony Shutt. The Gladiators defense would not let the turnover from Goodman slow them down. As on the next drive they forced the Predators to turn the ball over on down getting the ball back to the Gladiators first and ten from the Predators 11 yard line. Six plays must be the magic number for the Gladiators this night as they score the first points of the quarter on their sixth play of the drive as QB Shane Austin throws his fifth touchdown pass of the night to wide out Tom Gibson; Gladiators lead 42-28 with 1:36 left in the third quarter.
It took the Predators a whole quarter in the second half to finally get into the end zone. QB Bernard Morris was able to scramble from seven yard out and score the Predators first points of the second half. The Predators still trial the Gladiators 42-34 with 11:52 left in the game. Two plays later Shane Austin would answer the Predators last score with his sixth touchdown pass of the game to wide out Thyron Lewis. The Predators would not go down easily as they went nine plays and got a two yard touchdown run from wide out Greg Carr, as they still trial the Gladiators 49-40 with 4:38 left in the game. The Predators try to get something going late in the game, but the unsung heroes of the year the defense forces their third turnover of the night wrapped up the American Conference Championship. After the turnover Shane Austin put the game away for sure with his seventh touchdown pass of the night to wide out Thyron Lewis, Gladiators lead 56-40 with 40 second left in the game. The Predators were able to get one more score before the game ended from Morris, but it wasn’t enough. The Gladiators run the clock out and win 56-46. The Gladiators are on their way to their first ever Arena Bowl Championship.
The Gladiators will host the Arena Bowl at the Q on August 23 against the winning of the Arizona and San Jose game.