The Cleveland Gladiators (7-9) and the LA KISS (7-9) will meet in the first round of the AFL postseason. LA won the home-and-home series by a combined seven points. Cleveland were only a thrown interception and missed two-point conversion away from being on the winning side of those games. Cleveland and LA will meet in San Diego, Calif., today at 6 PM EST in the first round of the postseason. The winner will advance to play in the National Conference Championship.
In both games, the Gladiators actually accumulated more total offense than the KISS and currently rank 4th in the league, averaging 277.4 yards per game. The KISS rank 6th with 263.9 yards per game. Gladiators QB Arvell Nelson is currently fourth in the AFL with 3,245 passing yards and 70 touchdowns to go with his 212 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. In his only start against the KISS in Week 16, Nelson dismantled the KISS secondary for 333 passing yards and eight total touchdowns with two rushing. His receiving core with Collin Taylor has 110 receptions, 1,437 yards, 32 touchdowns and Quentin Sims who recorded 92 receptions, 1,112 yards, 27 touchdowns despite not even starting the season. Fellow wideouts Larry Beavers and Devin Wilson have added 965 yards and 17 touchdowns..
KISS QB Nathan Stanley, who is out with an injury, will rely on backup Pete Thomas to take his place under center for the KISS. Thomas has started five games this season, throwing for 2,086 yards and 42 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. His primary target is WR Donovan Morgan, who remained in the top 10 in all categories with 113 receptions, 1,462 yards and 41 touchdowns. WR D.J. Stephens has provided a solid second option, catching 77 passes for 915 yards and 16 touchdowns, while Brandon Collins has did his part catching 65 passes for 739 yards and 12 scores. Pete Thomas has yet to face the Gladiator defense.
Defensively, both games have come down to turnovers. In Week 3, the Gladiators and KISS traded scores through three quarters until a late interception by the KISS put Cleveland in an 11-point deficit with four minutes left, and the KISS would hang on for a 47-42 win. In Week 16, the KISS defense forced one interception and a turnover on downs, and Cleveland had to play catch-up. A wild fourth quarter ensued where the teams combined for 54 total points, but a crucial Gladiators two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful with one minute left in the game that allowed LA to hold on for the 63-61 win.