By: Matt Fontana
When the Philadelphia Soul came to Cleveland on Sunday, the Soul brought with them the number one scoring offense in the league (68 points per game). However, the Gladiators boasted their own number one ranking- the best scoring defense giving up just 46 points per game. Offense vs. defense, one had to break. Unfortunately for the Gladiators, it was their defense. The Philadelphia Soul beat Cleveland, 55-33.
Philly was in control of this game virtually from the opening kickoff. Cleveland jumped out to a 6-0 lead to open but they were playing catch up for the rest of the contest. At one point, the Soul rattled off 27 unanswered points. Cleveland suffered their worst loss of 2012 with the 22 point defeat.
The offense struggled all game, scoring a season low 33 points. Quarterback John Dutton finished 10/23 for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He was relieved in the fourth quarter by Matt Bassuener. Bassuener finished 3/7 for 33 yards and a touchdown. Dominick Goodman and Robert Redd continued as the only receiving threats. Both finished with five catches. Goodman had 87 yards and two touchdowns, while Redd had 58 yards and one score.
Defensively, the Gladiators played well vs. the number one offense in the AFL. Levy Brown had a game high ten tackles along with two interceptions, one of which he took back 20 for a touchdown. Dominic Jones finished with five tackles.
Following the game, Coach Steve Thonn and Dutton both pointed to offensive issues as the main problem vs. Philadelphia. “We just didn’t play well on offense. We didn’t execute. It was just a poor offensive performance on our part” said Thonn. He continued to say the effort of the team was a positive. Dutton said the offense must catch up to the defense, “We are not taking advantage of our defense, how good they are. We shouldn’t be 6-4 with a defense that we have. Offensively it’s on us.” The Gladiators were held to just 171 yards on offense, a season low.
With the loss, Cleveland falls to 1.5 games behind Philadelphia for the East Division lead. The Gladiators (6-4) have a quick opportunity to erase this game. They travel to Iowa to take on the Barnstormers (4-7) on Friday June 1st. It will be the second game for the Gladiators on national television.
· Wide Receiver Thryon Lewis left the game with a leg injury. Coach Thonn did not have an update following the game.
· Philadelphia RB Derrick Ross rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns. His 66 yards marks a season high vs. the Gladiators defense.
· Cleveland is now 4-2 when they score first.
· It is the second time this season Cleveland has followed up a three game winning streak with a loss.
· Cleveland defeated the Soul in week four, 68-62 in Philadelphia. Last season the team’s split with each team winning at home.
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