Dominick Goodman found the end zone for the 11th straight game, but it wasn't enough on Saturday night, as the Cleveland Gladiators (3-13) fell 68-32 to the Chicago Rush (9-7) at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford, Illinois. With the loss, the Gladiators were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Goodman led the way for the Gladiators, hauling in four catches for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
Chicago scored the game's first two touchdowns, and led 14-0 after one quarter of play. Colin Madison's 15-yard touchdown catch with 6:58 remaining in the first quarter gave Chicago a 7-0 lead, and Reggie Gray's 10-yard receiving touchdown- his first of three total touchdowns in the game- extended the game to a two-score advantage for the Rush.
The Gladiators cut to within a touchdown and made up ground in the second quarter. Cody Pearcy reeled in a 19-yard touchdown catch with 8:01 remaining in the second quarter, and the two teams would alternate touchdowns throughout the frame. The Gladiators outscored Chicago 20-14 in the second quarter; the only quarter in which Cleveland held the upper hand. Each of Goodman's touchdown catches, one from 15 yards and another from 20 yards, came in the final 3:53 of the second quarter. At halftime, the Gladiators trailed 28-20.
Chicago scored 20 points in the first 5:01 of the second half, beginning with Gray's 54-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Following a wild bounce on the ensuing kickoff, Chicago recovered and setup a one-yard Luke Drone touchdown run with 13:18 remaining in the third. Just 2:23 later, Taurus Johnson caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Drone to open up a 48-20 lead for the Rush, who outscored the Gladiators 27-6 in the third quarter.
Clay Harrell's 21-yard touchdown run up the left side with 4:05 left in the fourth quarter was the lone bright spot of the final frame for the Gladiators, but it was answered by the game's final scoring play; a 45-yard touchdown pass from Drone to Jorrick Calvin with 2:49 left to play. Calvin's touchdown gave Chicago a 68-32 lead, which ended up being the final score.
The Gladiators will play their final home game of the season next Saturday, July 20th against Orlando.
NOTES: The Gladiators topped the Rush 53-50 on May 11, and end the season series against Chicago with a 1-1 record... Goodman entered the game averaging 9.29 catches per game; the second best total in the AFL... The Gladiators were 1-7 on third down and 3-6 on fourth down... The game saw just 10 total penalties; four against the Gladiators and six against Chicago... Entering the game, Chicago was the least penalized team in the AFL and the Gladiators were the third least penalized team.