After a 16-point lead disappeared, the Cleveland Gladiators (2-7) fell 55-44 to the Pittsburgh Power (3-6) Saturday night at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The Gladiators held a 44-28 lead in the fourth quarter, but 27 unanswered Pittsburgh points sent the Gladiators to their second straight loss and gave the Power their first home win in six tries this season. Three different Gladiators receivers- Dominick Goodman, Thyron Lewis, and Jamar Howard- finished the game with five receptions.
The Gladiators and Power traded touchdowns throughout the first half, as Howard and Lewis caught touchdowns in the first half and Terrill Byrd had a rushing touchdown to keep the Gladiators tied 21-21 into the final two minutes of the second quarter. Kenny Stafford's second receiving touchdown of the game secured a halftime lead for the Power, but Aaron Pettrey's 36-yard field goal as time expired kept the Gladiators within four points at the closure of the first half.
Momentum shifted in favor of the Gladiators in the second half, as they scored 20 straight points to take a 44-28 lead; their biggest advantage of the game. Goodman caught a six-yard touchdown, and Joe Phinisee took an interception back 49 yards to give the Gladiators the 16-point lead at late as the 13:18 mark of the fourth quarter.
Pittsburgh came to life in the final frame, as the ensuing kickoff following the Phinisee touchdown was taken 56 yards to the end zone by Pittsburgh's Chris Leflore. Back-to-back touchdown passes from Pittsburgh quarterback Steven Sheffield to Mike Washington put the Power in front 48-44, before a Julian Talley 34-yard touchdown catch with 1:04 remaining put the game out of the Gladiators reach.
The Gladiators play the second of back-to-back road games Saturday in New Orleans at 8:00 PM Eastern; all Gladiators games air live on 92.3 The Fan.
NOTES: The Gladiators are 1-3 on the road, and 1-1 within the American Conference's Eastern Division... Pittsburgh is now 2-0 in the American Conference's Eastern Division with wins over both Cleveland and Philadelphia... Cleveland is 1-2 all-time in Pittsburgh... Dominick Goodman has 35 catches over his last four games... With an interception, Marrio Norman has two interceptions in three games with the Gladiators... Lenny Wicks led the Gladiators with two pass breakups... Gladiators quarterback Brian Zbydniewski was 19-38 for 204 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game... Zbydniewski left the game with an injury late in the fourth quarter, and receiver Dominick Goodman finished the game 0-2 passing.