Sunday, May 22, 2011

Soul stopped by Gladiators

After a fourth-down, goal-line stop by the Philadelphia Soul (3-7) in the third quarter, a late flag for a defensive penalty allowed the Cleveland Gladiators (6-3) to finish the drive with a touchdown, claim momentum, and win running away, 59-41, in front of 7,979 fans at the Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday night.

“They baited us into a style of play, and we fell for it,” said Soul head coach Mike Hohensee.  “There were areas of our game that were very good – Donovan [Morgan] had a great game and Ryan [Vena] made some good decisions up until the last pass – but we just needed to keep our composure and we clearly didn’t.”

Soul quarterback Ryan Vena completed 20-of-31 passes (64.5%) for 249 yards, six touchdowns, and an interception.  Wide Receiver Donovan Morgan had another stellar performance despite the loss, contributing nine receptions for 132 yards and four touchdowns, earning him Cutter Catch of the Game and Spalding Highlight of the Game honors.  Receiver Syvelle Newton added seven receptions for 49 yards and two touchdowns, and Keith Stokes caught three passes for 39 yards.

The Gladiators attacked first, with defensive end Drew Berube forcing a Vena fumble, and quarterback Kurt Rocco connecting with receiver Robert Redd on an 18-yard pass at 8:46.  The Soul responded with a 10-yard catch and scramble by Newton, cutting the Gladiators lead to 7-6 at the end of the first.

Cleveland opened the second quarter with a surge that included a 15-yard touchdown reception by Redd, a safety by defensive end Anthony Hoke, and a 15-yard catch and run by 6-foot-8, 340-pound, tight end Adam Tadisch that increased the Gladiators lead to 23-6 with 11:40 remaining in the half.  The Soul answered back with a 10-yard touchdown reception by Morgan and a five-yard reception by Newton that sent the Soul into the locker room trailing, 23-20.

The tide turned for the Soul in the third quarter after the critical fourth down penalty.  Linebacker Brandon Perkins was called for being “out of the box” after it appeared the defense had halted the Gladiator drive.  Cleveland immediately capitalized and grabbed momentum when fullback Russell Monk ran in for a three-yard touchdown.  Cleveland sustained pressure with Berube tackling Stokes on the following kickoff for a safety, and wide receiver Thyron Lewis catching a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Gladiators up 39-20 with 7:52 remaining.  Both teams added a touchdown that ended the third with the Gladiators leading 45-27.

Both teams each added 14 points in a fourth quarter that was marred by fights, causing a total of six players to be ejected from the game, three from each side.

The Gladiators’ Rocco completed 18-of-29 passes for 233 yards and seven touchdowns, earning him Russell Offensive Player of the Game honors.  Redd was named National Guard MVP and JLS Ironman of the Game with his eight receptions for 113 yards and four touchdown, adding five kick returns for 135 yards.

The next game for the Soul will be at home against the New Orleans VooDoo (2-6) at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday, May 27 at 7:05 p.m. (EST), with coverage on NiftyTV.

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