Despite 404 passing yards and eight total touchdowns from QB Arvell Nelson, the Cleveland Gladiators fell to the Philadelphia Soul in a Week 15 road clash in front of 5,593 fans on Saturday at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA. With the loss, the Gladiators are now 7-7 on the season and remain alone in second place in the AFL’s National Conference standings.
Soul QB Dan Raudabaugh started the scoring with a two-yard TD pass to OL/TE Adam Smith mid-way through the first quarter before a missed Philly extra point gave way to Cleveland’s first score, a 10-yard Nelson to Collin Taylor hookup that extended Taylor’s franchise-record streak to 30 consecutive games with at least one touchdown catch. Philadelphia’s Jeramie Richardson capped the first-quarter scoring with a one-yard touchdown run to make it 13-7 Soul heading into the second.
The Gladiators responded with a 34-yard bomb to start to second quarter from Nelson to WR Quentin Sims that, after an unsuccessful extra point try, left the game tied at 13 apiece. Another Richardson TD scamper made it 20-13 Philadelphia with just under 12 minutes left in the first half before Cleveland WR Devin Wilson hauled in a 24-yard scoring strike from Nelson to tie the game at 20. A 37-yard Soul TD pass from Raudubaugh to Darius Reynolds put Philly back in front with eight minutes left in the second before the Glads once again pulled even on a one-yard Larry Beavers TD run with less than five minutes to go in the half.
After Philadelphia parlayed a successful onside kick attempt into 14 more first half points, the Soul scored their third unanswered TD on the first possession of the third quarter on a 10-yard Raudabaugh-to-Shaun Kauleinamoku connection that pushed the Soul edge to three scores at 48-27. A 12-yard TD grab from Taylor, courtesy of Nelson, cut the Philly advantage to 14 points with 10 minutes left in the third quarter, but the Soul rattled off two more unanswered touchdowns to claim their largest lead, a 28-point edge, at 62-34.
In the fourth quarter, a 35-yard Nelson-to-Beavers bomb started things in the right direction for Cleveland to make it 62-41, before Raudabaugh connected with Reynolds for a five-yard score. The Gladiators benefitted from back-to-back eight-yard Nelson touchdown passes, to Wilson and Sims respectively, to get back to within two touchdowns at 69-55, but the Soul posted two of the game’s final three scores to claim victory by the final score of 83-62.
With the win, Philadelphia claimed the four-game season series vs. the Gladiators three games to one, while Raudabaugh finished the game completing all but one of 21 pass attempts for 335 yards and eight touchdowns. Sims led the way for the Gladiators’ receiving corps with 128 receiving yards on 10 catches for two scores, barely outpacing another big performance from Taylor (10 catches, 101 yards, two TD’s).
Next up for the Gladiators, it’s a Week 16 road clash vs. the LA KISS with full coverage, live from the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA, underway on Saturday, July 16th at 10:00 pm on 92.3 The Fan and CBS Sports Network.