CLEVELAND — The wait will continue for long-suffering Cleveland football fans.
The Cleveland Gladiators saw their dream season end in stunning fashion Saturday when they lost ArenaBowl XXVII to the Arizona Rattlers 72-32 in front of a boisterous crowd of 18,410 at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Gladiators were outscored 30-7 in the second quarter and Cleveland quarterback Shane Austin threw four interceptions as the Rattlers became only the second team in Arena Football League history to win three consecutive ArenaBowl titles.
“This was the best team I’ve ever been a part of from Little League to the pros,” Cleveland wide receiver/linebacker Collin Taylor said. “This was an incredible team that made an incredible run. We feel like we could have played better tonight but Arizona came out and looked like the best team tonight.”
Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila earned ArenaBowl MVP honors by throwing eight touchdowns as part of a 19-for-24, 237-yard performance. He had five touchdowns in the first half.
“Coach (Kevin) Guy did an outstanding job of coming up with a game plan,” Davila said. “All week we just came out and tried to execute what he gave us.
Cleveland played great defense all season and won so many close games that we knew as an offense we had to go out and score every time we had the ball and we almost did that.”
The Rattlers (18-3) had four receivers catch at least two touchdown passes.
Rod Windsor led the Rattlers with seven receptions for 123 yards and three touchdowns.
Kerry Reed had two touchdown catches, but it was his play on defense that set the tone for the game. Playing a jack linebacker, Reed intercepted an Austin pass in the first quarter and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown.
“I think the pick six was a big momentum shifter,” Reed said. “We just kept going from there on both sides of the football.”
Cleveland (19-2) had 267 yards of total offense, compared to 287 for the Rattlers, but were unable to find the end zone much of the night. Austin was just 18-for-41 for 201 yards and three touchdowns before being pulled in favor of Chris Dieker early in the fourth quarter. Dieker came on and threw two late touchdown passes to Dominick Goodman.
“It hurts right now,” Goodman said. “But when you think bad on going from 4-14 last year to 17-1 this year it’s a great compliment to this team. Nobody likes to lose but it’s life. Somebody gotta win, somebody gotta lose and tonight it was us.”
Goodman said the family feeling that existed on the team is a memory he will take away from the 2014 season.
“We had a brotherly bond that went beyond just the team,” he said. “It extended to the front office and the fans. We love the fans. They could have left in the fourth quarter but most of them stuck with us right until the end.”
Arizona came within one point of setting an ArenaBowl record for most points scored in a game. The Jacksonville Sharks scored 73 against the Rattlers in ArenaBowlXXIV.
Thyron Lewis led Cleveland with 134 yards receiving on eight catches. He also had a touchdown.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Arizona 72, Cleveland 32
Arizona 14 30 14 14 — 72
Cleveland 6 7 6 13 — 32
A—Rod Windsor 41 pass from Nick Davila (Craig Ratanamorn kick).
A—Kerry Reed 46 interception return (Ratanamorn kick)
C—Collin Taylor 9 pass from Shane Austin (kick fail).
A—Chris Jackson 11 pass from Davila (Ratanmorn kick).
A—Safety, Austin sacked in end zone by Cliff Dukes
A—Tysson Poots 12 pass from Davila (Ratanmorn kick)
A—Reed 5 pass from Davila (Ratanmorn kick)
C—Thyron Leiws 15 pass from Austin (Aaron Pettrey kick).
A—Windsor 10 pass from Davila (Ratanamorn kick).
A—Reed 3 pass from Davila (Ratanmorn kick)
A—Windsor 30 pass from Davila (Ratanamorn kick).
C—Dominick Goodman 8 pass from Austin (pass fail).
A—Poots 15 pass from Davila (Ratanmorn kick)
C—Goodman 5 pass from Chris Dieker (kick fail).
A—Jackson 12 pass from Jason Murrieta (Ratanmorn kick).
C—Goodman 6 pass from Dieker (Pettrey kick)
First downs 19 19
-- by rushing 0 0
-- by passing 18 17
-- by penalty 1 2
Yards rushing 5 6
Yards passing 82 261
Total offense 287 267
Passes att./comp. 28/23 50/22
Intercepted by 4 1
Fumbles/lost 0/0 0/0
Penalties/yards 5/29 8/35
RUSHING — (A) Alex Singleton 2-3, Jason Murrietta 2-2. (C) Shane Austin 1-2, Chris Dieker 1-2.
PASSING — (A) Nick Davila 19-24-237-8-1, Murrietta 4-4-45-1-0. (C) Austin 18-41-201-3-4, Dieker 4-9-68-2-0
RECEIVING — (A) Tysson Poots 9-93, Rod Windsor 7-123, Kerry Reed 3-20, Chris Jackson 2-23, Singleton 1-12, Michael Huey 1-11 . (C) Thyron Lewis 8-134, Dominick Goodman 7-60, Collin Taylor 4-34, Kitt O’Brien 1-24, Jason Jones 1-13, Tom Gilson 1-4.