CLEVELAND, OH – In front of 5,758 fans on Easter Sunday, the Cleveland Gladiators fell to the expansion Baltimore Brigade, 52-49. Baltimore quarterback Shane Carden led the way with 159 yards passing and six touchdowns with wide receiver Reggie Gray pitching in with 92 receiving yards and three touchdowns himself. Wide receivers Quentin Sims and Collin Taylor led the Gladiators with two touchdowns a piece. Quarterback Tanner Marsh threw for 288 yards and four touchdowns in his Gladiators debut.
Baltimore got on the board first when Carden found Gray for his first of three touchdowns, this one a five-yard score, leading to a 7-0 Brigade lead early. The Gladiators answered back when Marsh, hit Taylor in the corner of the end zone with an 18-yard touchdown strike. Kicker Drew Basil’s extra point evened things up at the end of the first quarter, 7-7.
In the first possession of the second quarter, Carden hooked up with Gray for another touchdown, this time from six yards out to push Baltimore back in front, 14-7. Then with 29 seconds remaining in the first half, Carden hit offensive lineman Ian Joseph with a screen pass that went five yards for another brigade score, extending their lead to 21-7. The Gladiators capped off the first half with a touchdown when Marsh found wide receiver Larry Brackins for a five-yard score as time expired. Basil’s extra point trimmed Baltimore’s lead to 21-14 at the break.
After Cleveland forced a turnover on downs to start the second half, Sims ripped away a would-be interception away from defensive back Varmah Sonie for an eight-yard score, dead-locking the score at 21.
After Gray caught another touchdown from Carden to reclaim the lead for the Brigade, Marsh found fullback Phillipkeith Manley on a screen for a 31-yard touchdown. Baltimore responded again when Carden hit wide receiver LaQuan Williams for a 13-yard score to go in front once more, 35-28, at the end of the third quarter. Manley found the end zone for a second time on the ensuing drive, plunging forward from one-yard out to pull Cleveland to a 35-35 score. The Brigade immediately answered once again when Sonie returned the kick-off 50 yards for a touchdown, giving Baltimore a 42-35 lead with 11:10 left in the game.
Collin Taylor and Quentin Sims catch two touchdowns each in home loss.
On Cleveland’s next drive Marsh fumbled and the ball would be recovered by Baltimore. Carden connected with Williams for a four-yard score two plays later to extend the Brigade lead to 49-35 with 5:17 remaining in the contest.
Jack linebacker Arvell Nelson stepped in for Marsh at quarterback on the ensuing drive and quickly found wide receiver Michael Preston for a 34-yard strike before capping the drive with a 12-yard throw-and-catch touchdown to Sims, trimming the Brigade lead to 49-42. Baltimore extended their lead to 52-42 on their next possession when kicker Patrick Clarke booted a 20-yard field goal with 57 seconds left.
Nelson would strike again, cutting the deficit to 52-49 when he found Taylor on a 45-yard pass for the Gladiators score with 46 seconds remaining in the game. Kicker Drew Basil’s ensuing onside kick attempt would, however, be recovered by the Brigade, sealing Baltimore’s first-ever franchise win.
Next up for the Gladiators is a road date with the Tampa Bay Storm on Saturday, April 22nd at 7:00pm. The game can be seen live on CBS Sports Network and streamed onClevelandGladiators.com while also being heard on 92.3 The Fan.