CLEVELAND, OH - The Philadelphia Soul (5-5) took a tough loss on the road against their division rivals, the Cleveland Gladiators (9-0), 54-52 after blowing a 17 point lead in the final minute. 10,659 fans were in attendance at the Quicken Loans Arena.
After a Derrick Ross touchdown that put the Soul up 52-35 with 3:15 left in the fourth, fans started to leave the Arena. However, the Gladiators must have used that as motivation to bring themselves back in the game.
Gladiators QB Shane Austin took over on offense. Austin first threw a touchdown to WR Thyron Lewis for 19 yards with about 1:00 left. Shortly after, Cleveland onside kicked and recovered with 0:50 seconds left on the clock. During the Gladiators' next drive, Austin threw a touchdown to WR Dominick Goodman that nudged the score down to 52-48 with 0:20 seconds left to go in the final quarter of play. As expected, the Gladiators onside kicked and once again, recovered the football at their own 11. Cleveland marched up the field and approached the Soul's territory. With Cleveland's undefeated season on the line, Austin throws the buzzer-beater touchdown to Lewis for 11 yards with 0:01 second on the clock.
"It's unbelievable," Gladiators QB Shane Austin told reporters after the game. "We kind of drew up that last play and it shows that there is a lot of fight in us."
Austin finished the night by going 29-46, threw 345 yards and five touchdowns.
WR Thyron Lewis spoke to Soul Insider briefly after the game to discuss the match that the Soul put up. Lewis recorded 5 catches, 77 yards and three touchdowns against the Soul's suspect defense.
"They're a good team," Lewis said on the Philadelphia Soul to Soul Insider. "Full of vets. We knew it would be a competitive game."
DB Fred Shaw talked about what happened in the final minute of play.
"Players just have to step up and make plays," Shaw said. "Too many big plays that we let up and it cost us big time."
Soul's QB Dan Raudabaugh ended the night by going 20-27, threw 213 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Head Coach Clint Dolezel released a statement after the Soul's loss.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” said Soul head coach Clint Dolezel in a press release. “We were able to take advantage of the opportunities early, but you need to do that for all four quarters. We didn’t get it done in the fourth quarter tonight."
Not only did that loss keep Cleveland undefeated, but it put the Soul 1.5 games back from second place in their division. (Pittsburgh 6-3). The Soul's next game will be home against the currently (1-8) San Antonio Talons.