Cleveland Gladiators wideout Jamar Howard caught two second half touchdown passes.
The Cleveland Gladiators came into their contest against the American Conference Champion Philadelphia Soul winless and in dire need of a break or two. After allowing a score in their first defensive series, the Soul opened up a 14-point lead. In the second half, momentum slowly shifted to Cleveland. The Soul offense was stifled and the Gladiators were able to spoil the Soul home opener 64-57 in overtime.
Philly’s Derrick “Da Boss” Ross ran for 17 yards and two touchdowns.
The enthusiastic crowd of 12,975 came into the Wells Fargo Center in anticipation of the Philadelphia Soul sending the Cleveland Gladiators to their worst start ever. Instead, the Soul offense was stalled in the second half — enabling the struggling Gladiators to take advantage and steal a 64-57 win in overtime.
Cleveland quarterback Brian Zbydniewski passed for 316 yards and was responsible for 9 scores (8 passing, 1 rushing). The Gladiators scored on their opening drive. The Soul countered with their first score with 3:29 remaining in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by fullback Derrick Ross. LaRico Stevenson scored forty-six seconds later when he scooped up a Cleveland fumble and ran in for a 6-yard score. Cleveland evened things up in the opening seconds of the second quarter when Zbydniewski connected with Thyron Lewis (6 rec. 122 yds.) on the first of his four touchdowns.
The Soul scored two touchdowns nearly two minutes apart. Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh (306 yds. 5 td., 2 int.) connected with Larry Brackins and Tiger Jones on passes of 14 and 6 yards, respectively. Philadelphia went into the half holding a 35-21 advantage.
Dan Raudabaugh threw two interceptions on consecutive drives to open the third quarter. The Gladiators capitalized on those errors with two scoring receptions by Jamar Howard (9 rec. 95 yds.). The teams were deadlocked at 35 after three quarters.
Cleveland took their first lead since the opening drive on a reception 30-yard reception by Jonathan Wilson, Wilson’s pass became an uncontested play when the Soul receiver fell in coverage. Cleveland led 47-42 after missing the point after on a previous score. Both teams traded scores in the final minute of regulation until Cleveland placekicker Ross Gornall hit a 45 yard field goal to send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Cleveland went 48 yards in 5 plays resulting in Thyron Lewis’ fourth score of the game. The Soul offense turned the ball over on downs, awarding the victory to the Gladiators. The defeat ruined a great game by Soul receiver Tiger Jones — who finished with 13 receptions for 143 yards and 3 scores.
Next up for the Soul are the undefeated Jacksonville Sharks.