Third time’s a charm: The Pittsburgh Power (8-3) knocked off the undefeated Cleveland Gladiators (9-1) with a 48-34 victory at CONSOL Energy Center in front of a crowd of 5,348.
The Power forced six Cleveland turnovers and saw a four-touchdown performance from rookie wide receiver Tyrone Goard to pick up their fifth-straight win on the season.
Pittsburgh struck first on their opening drive when quarterback Tommy Grady connected with wide receiver Rodney Wright on a crucial fourth down to put Pittsburgh up 7-0. Cleveland drew even and looked to take the lead after getting an interception on the Power’s next offensive possession, but Jack linebacker Arvell Nelson picked off Shane Austin to keep things tied at the end of the first quarter.
Grady put Pittsburgh back up seven early in the second frame when he floated a pass to wide receiver Tyrone Goard in the back right corner of the end zone. After the Power defense forced a Cleveland turnover on downs, Grady and Goard hooked up again to put the Power up 21-7.
Grady finished the contest 18-of-36 for 251 yards and five scores.
Cleveland was able to make it a one possession game entering halftime when Austin lofted a pass to Thyron Lewis on fourth and goal as time expired.
The Gladiators tied things up early in the second half when Austin and Dominick Goodman connected for a score on Cleveland’s opening drive. Once again, Cleveland had ideas of taking the lead after recovering a Grady fumble, but an Al Phillips interception enabled Pittsburgh to retake the lead on Goard’s third touchdown of the game.
Goard finished the game with four touchdowns to earn Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game honors.
Phillips picked off his second pass of the game to start the fourth quarter, but a Prechae Rodriguez fumble put the ball back into the hands of the Gladiators. On their next possession, Nelson ran under another tipped pass and raced up the sideline for his second defensive touchdown of the season to make it 35-21 Pittsburgh.
After trading touchdowns, Pittsburgh forced another turnover on downs and added a Tommy Taggart rushing touchdown with 56 seconds left to seal the victory over their undefeated foes.
The Power are undefeated at home since Ron James took over as the team’s head coach in Week 2. Pittsburgh stays at home next week for a showdown with the New Orleans VooDoo on Saturday, June 7 with kickoff scheduled for 5:00 p.m. ET.
POST GAME AWARDS
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tyrone Goard, Pittsburgh
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Al Phillips, Pittsburgh
J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME: Arvell Nelson, Pittsburgh
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME: Tyron Goard’s second TD of the game.
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME: Arvell Nelson’s interception return for touchdown