History was made today. The Baltimore Brigade have their first win in franchise history, defeating the Cleveland Gladiators 52-49. The crowd of 5,758 was a little smaller than usual due to the Easter holiday. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but once the NBA pairings and TV schedule were set, the Cleveland Cavaliers were required to begin their title defense yesterday afternoon, which meant the Gladiators needed to find a new day to play.
Despite the fact that they outscored the Brigade 35-31 in the second half, a slow start and only fourteen points in the first half put Cleveland in a catch-up situation again this week. Late in the first quarter Cleveland gained a short-lived 7-7 tie from the effort of rookie quarterback Tanner Marsh in his first action of the season on an 18 yard pass to Collin Taylor. Marsh would throw for a total of 288 yards and four touchdowns, but had a key fumble early in the 4th after the Brigade had regained the lead at 42-35.
Newly signed Arvell Nelson entered the game at quarterback with the Glads trailing 49-35 with 5:17 remaining in the game and guided Cleveland to touchdowns on his first two drives. Nelson, who played for Cleveland last season on defense and at quarterbaxk, had been cut during the first week of this year’s training camp.
Nelson’s initial drive resulted in a 12 yard touchdown pass to Quentin Sims to pull Cleveland within seven at 49-42 with 2:43 left. After holding Baltimore to a field goal on its next possession, Nelson took to the air again and hit Collin Taylor for a 45 yard scoring pass at the :46 mark to make it a 52-49 ball game and the eventual final score.
Nelson’s late-game heroics could make decisions about the quarterback position moving forward a bit challenging for the Gladiators’ coaching staff.
Former OSU Buckeye kicker Drew Basil turned in a positive performance for the Glads hitting 7 out of 7 extra points.