A west coast game ended late Saturday night with the Cleveland Gladiators defeating the Portland Steel 58-49 at the Moda Center in Portland. With the win, the Gladiators improved to 6-6 on the season and are still in second place in the AFL’s National Conference.
Gladiators QB Arvell Nelson started off hot when he connected with wide receiver Quentin Sims for a 35-yard touchdown early in the first quarter to make it 7-0. Portland came back with a 3-yard TD toss from former Gladiator Shane Austin to WR Rashaad Carter to tie the game at seven. WR Larry Beavers caught a 23-yard pass to help the Gladiators gain the 14-7 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Nelson found Devin Wilson for a 23-yard scoring strike to make it 21-7 before a one-yard James Shaw touchdown run put Portland within seven at 21-14. Cleveland’s Collin Taylor hauled in a nine-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to make it 28-14 and Nelson quickly found Quentin Simms for a two-yard strike and gave Cleveland its largest lead of the game at 35-14. Austin put together a buzzer-beating drive in the second quarter and capped it off with a three-yard TD reception to Carter with no time left on the clock that put the Steel within two scores at the half.
In the third quarter, Portland struck quickly with an Asuitn 23- TD pass and the Steel were only down seven with the score 35-28, but Nelson found Taylor again for a 15-yard TD to put the Gladiators back up by 14 points. Portland’s Austin found Carter and connected for the third time in the game to make it 42-35. The Gladiators closed out the third quarter with a 14-yard score from Nelson to Wilson that made it 48-35 heading into the fourth.
In the first minute of the fourth quarter, Gladiators DB Marvin Ross returned an Austin interception 42 yards for the touchdown to gain a 55-35 lead. Back-to-back touchdown passes from Austin, to Shaw and Jared Perry put the Steel within six points at 55-49 before yet another Austin pick set up the 22-yard Adrian Trevino field goal which was the kicker’s first field goal conversion of the season, that put an end to the Steel comeback and the Gladiators win 58-49.
STATS: QB ARVELL NELSON 21-35 for 249 yards and 7 TD. WR COLLIN TAYLOR 8 catches for 90 yards and 2 TD.
QB SHANE AUSTIN 23-37 for 291 yards and 6 TD. WR JAMES SHAW 8 catches for 109 yards and 2 TD