The Cleveland Gladiators were defeated by the LA KISS on Saturday with a final score of 63-61. The Gladiators fall to 7-8 on the season and currently sit alone in third place in the AFL’s National Conference standings.
Gladiators QB Arvell Nelson started the scoring with a 19-yard strike to WR Quentin Sims early in the first quarter before LA tied the game at seven thanks to a six-yard touchdown pass from QB Nathan Stanley to wide out Donovan Morgan shortly thereafter. Nelson delivered a three-yard rushing TD before Stanley connected with Morgan again to tie things up at 14 apiece. Cleveland WR Collin Taylor had the last laugh of the quarter as he pulled in a 28-yard TD heave from Nelson as time expired in the first to extend his franchise-record streak to 31 straight games with at least one touchdown reception.
In the second quarter, Stanley connected with TE Colin Madison on a four-yard TD pass to tie the game at 21 before Nelson and Sims combined on a seven-yard pitch-and-catch to deliver the Gladiators a 28-21 advantage. LA once again rallied to tie the game as Stanley and DJ Stephens hooked up for an 11-yard strike with a few seconds remaining in the half.
LA rattled off 21 unanswered points in the third and beginning of the fourth quarter before Nelson found Sims for another TD to start a Gladiators comeback at 49-34 midway through the fourth. After a successful onside kick attempt, Nelson launched a 38-yard bomb to Sims to continue the rally before an eight-yard passing score from Stanley to Morgan stopped the bleeding for the KISS and put LA’s edge to 56-41. Nelson ran a QB sneak that made it 56-48 and led to another successful onside kick that was batted all the way inside the KISS 10-yard line before it was scooped up by Cleveland DL Nick Seither who took ran it in for the score, putting the Glads within a single score at 56-54 after an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt.
LA recovered the next onside kick attempt though and benefitted from Stanley’s eighth TD pass of the night with less than one minute remaining in the game, a seven-yard connection to Stephens sealed the deal for KISS as they held on for a dramatic 63-61 victory.
Nelson finished with 21 completions on 31 pass attempts for 332 yards and eight total touchdowns (two rushing), while Sims paced the Gladiators’ receiving corps with 12 catches for 197 yards and five touchdowns and Taylor supplied four grabs for 81 yards and one score.
Next up for the Gladiators, it’s a Week 17 road clash vs. the Arizona Rattlers.