Gladiators Outlasted by Storm, 73-59
Courtesy: Cleveland Gladiators Media
TAMPA – The Arena Football League’s Cleveland Gladiators, proudly presented by Unique Home Solutions, fell to the Tampa Bay Storm, 73-59, on Monday night at Amalie Arena. The loss ends the 2017 season for the Gladiators as quarterback Arvell Nelson completed 27 of his 40 passes for 322 yards and seven touchdowns in the game. Wide receiver Quentin Sims totaled 13 receptions for 137 yards and five touchdowns in his first game back after a three-game absence due to injury.
The Storm got the scoring started when quarterback Randy Hippeard found wide receiver Joe Hills for a seven-yard score on their first drive, giving Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead. Cleveland responded on their ensuing possession when quarterback Arvell Nelson hit the returning Quentin Sims for a six-yard touchdown. Hippeard’s six-yard scoring connection with wide receiver LaMark Brown on the next series pushed Tampa’s lead to 14-6. However, Sims found the end zone for his second score of the night on Cleveland’s next drive, this time a ten-yard pass from Nelson, trimming Tampa’s lead to 14-13 at the end of the first quarter.
Tampa pushed their lead back up to 21-13 when Hills hauled in his second touchdown of the night, this time a 14-yarder from Hippeard. Nelson went back to the well again on Cleveland’s next series, finding Sims streaking down the field by himself for an 18-yard score, once again cutting the lead to one, 21-20. The Storm answered quickly, with Hippeard finding wide receiver Kendrick Ings for his first score of the night, a 28-yarder, propelling the Storm to an eight-point lead once again, 28-20.
On their next possession, the Gladiators marched 38 yards on eight plays, capping off the drive with a one-yard touchdown, as Jeramie Richardson cut the deficit to 28-26 with 3:35 remaining the first half. After the Glads defense forced a big turnover, Nelson found Sims for his fourth touchdown of the half, giving Cleveland their first lead of the game, 32-28. Tampa closed the scoring in the first half when kicker Mark Lewis connected on a 30-yard field goal, giving the Gladiators a 32-31 lead into the half.
The Storm opened the second half with the ball and found the end zone quickly after a long 48-yard reception from Ings. Hippeard kept it himself and pushed his way into the end zone to give Tampa the lead back, 38-32. Just like the first half, the Glads kept pace as Richardson picked up his second rushing touchdown of the night, a two-yard scamper to give Cleveland the lead once again, 39-38. On Tampa’s next drive, Hippeard connected with Hills on fourth down for his third touchdown of the night, a 17-yarder that re-claimed the lead for the Storm, 44-39, heading into the fourth quarter.
After Tampa successfully recovered an onside kick, Hippeard found Ings for his second score of the night, a three-yard pass that increased the Storm lead to 52-39 after the two-point conversion. The Glads answered on their next series as Nelson found wide receiver Michael Preston for his first touchdown of the night, a 12-yarder to pull within six, 52-46 with 8:20 remaining in the game. Hippeard responded, finding Hills for his fourth score of the night to build the Storm lead, 59-46.
The Gladiators offense would not go quietly as Nelson threw for his sixth touchdown of the night, this time a 34-yard bomb hauled in by Preston to cut into the Storm lead, 59-53. The Glads’ ensuing onside kick attempt was, however, recovered by Hills and returned 11 yards for another Tampa score, giving the Storm a 66-53 lead. Sims caught his fifth touchdown pass of the night on Cleveland’s next series, pulling the score to within seven at 66-59 before Hippeard put the game out of reach for good with a two-yard touchdown run, capping the scoring for the evening and giving Tampa a 73-59 victory.
NOTES: Cleveland WR Michael Preston showed up in the second half, catching two key touchdowns and finishing with seven receptions for 91 yards. Gladiators WR Collin Taylor provided six catches for 72 yards while FB Jeramie Richardson chipped in with two rushing touchdowns. DB Kenny Veal totaled 185 kick return yards on eight tries.. JLB Terence Moore and DB Marrio Norman both led the defense with five tackles each.
POST GAME AWARD WINNERS:
Offensive Player of the Game: TB WR Joe Hills – seven catches, 78 yards, four touchdown grabs, five total TD’s
Defensive Player of the Game: TB JLB Alvin Ray Jackson – eight tackles (seven solo)
MVP of the Game: TB WR Kendrick Ings – eight catches, 124 yards, two touchdown grabs
ABOUT THE CLEVELAND GLADIATORS
The Cleveland Gladiators are entering their 9th season in Cleveland as a member of the Arena Football League. In the 2014 season, the Gladiators hosted the ArenaBowl at Quicken Loans Arena, and have been in the post season on four other accounts. For tickets, contact the Gladiators sales department at (216) 420-2222, or by visiting the team’s web site clevelandgladiators.com. Follow the Soul on Facebook at facebook.com/ClevelandGladiators, on Twitter at twitter.com/clegladiators, on Instagram at instagram.com/clevelandgladiators, on YouTube at youtube.com/CLEGladiators, on Soundcloud at soundcloud.com/cleveland-gladiators, and on Snapchat at Snapchat.com/add/clegladS.