In the season and home opener for the Cleveland Gladiators, things appeared to be going well to start. The defense forced a turnover on downs to start the game, but the offense could not capitalize the Gladiators got the ball down to Tampa’s two -yard line but were unable to punch it in.
The action would pick up late in the first quarter when the Storm’s Caesar Rayford found a tiped ball in the air and walked it in from the four for the first score of the game. Rayford set the tone early and often as he lead the team in sacks with 1.5 and was also responsible for taking the Glads back a total of -11 yards on just two plays.
The offensive line for Cleveland had some issues here and there as they learned how to protect new quarterback Shane Boyd.
With 2:44 left in the first Collin Taylor scored to tie the game at seven. The Storm and Gladiators would trade touchdowns with Tampa’s score being Joe Hills first one of the night and in very athletic fashion.
Hills would strike again for the second time to end the first half Tampa Bay was up 19-14. No team would score more than 14 in the first three frames.
Brandon Thompkins started quarter number three for the Gladiators with a 24-yard touchdown catch giving the Gladiators a two-point lead at 21 19. Back-to-back touchdowns from the Storm would stretch the game out too 32-21 with 12 minutes left to play. A nice shuffle pass behind the line of scrimmage from Boyd to Larry Brackins made it 32-28 Storm.
In a way summing up how the Cleveland Gladiators started the season tonight with less than a minute to go in the game, Boyd threw an interception that would have sealed the Glads fate. However, an illegal procedure penalty on the Storm allowed for the drive to continue. Brackins caught his first receiving touchdown of the game and madd the score 39-34 Storm.
The excitement didn’t last long 19 seconds later the storm scored again, this time a six yard catch from Randy Hippeard to LaMark Brown making it 46-34. The final would be 46-40 Storm.