The Cleveland Gladiators hosted the Tampa Bay Storm at the Q Arena on Saturday night. The Gladiators were looking to keep ground with the Baltimore Brigade for the third seed in the Arena Football League playoffs. Tampa was looking to win their second game in a row and improve to 9-2.
Tampa scored first when Randy Hippeard found Kendrick Ings for a touchdown. The extra point was botched, so the score remained 6-0. Cleveland took a 7-6 lead when Arvell Nelson Lonnie Outlaw for a score. That would be the second at the end of one.
The Storm struck back with a touchdown from Hippeard to Hills. Hills tied the record with his 78th consecutive game with a touchdown catch. Jeramie Richardson rushed for a touchdown to give the Gladiators the lead right back. A rushing touchdown from Nelson gave Cleveland a 21-13 halftime lead.
Collin Taylor scored to give the Gladiators a commanding 28-13 lead over the Storm. Tampa would make a comeback, however. Trailing 34-20, they forced a turnover on downs. They would have a chance to make it a closer game in the fourth as Cleveland led 34-20 after three.
Unfortunately, it looked as if they wouldn’t be able to do it. Cleveland built their lead to 41-20 in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Tampa didn’t give up, however. After recovering an onside kick following a score, another Storm score made it a 41-33 Gladiators lead.
With a fourth and goal with four seconds left, Hills scored his third of the night as time expired. The two conversion was no good, and the Gladiators came put with the 41-39 victory.
They will be on a bye next week before they play the Storm in Tampa on July 22. Tampa will face off against the Baltimore Brigade at the Royal Farms Arena next weekend.