The Pittsburgh Power opened their 2014 Arena Football League season tonight at CONSOL Energy Center in front of a crowd of 7,742. Despite holding a lead over the Cleveland Gladiators the majority of the game, the Power ended behind with a score of 63-53.
Power quarterback Tommy Grady opened the night with an impressive 47-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez. With the extra point by kicker Julian Rauch, Pittsburgh took an early lead over Cleveland, 7-0.
The Gladiators responded with quarterback Chris Dieker completing a few short passes to wide receivers Tyrone Collins and Dominick Goodman to advance the ball down the field to ultimately rush in the end zone himself for the touchdown, one of Dieker’s four rushing touchdowns for the night. Cleveland kicker Aaron Pettry missed the PAT, allowing the Power to maintain the lead, 7-6.
The first quarter completed with two more Pittsburgh touchdowns, wide receivers Rodriguez and Shawn Kauleinamoku each with a grab from Grady. Cleveland also chipped in one more score, to finish the quarter with a score of 21-13.
Pittsburgh’s Rodriguez stayed hot at the opening of the second quarter with a nine-yard touchdown reception to increase the Power’s lead to 28-13. Cleveland answered with a 26 -yard touchdown catch, bringing Gladiators within reach at 28-20. Power kicker Rauch then made history, recording the longest field goal made for the Power with a 49-yard field goal, putting the Power ahead, 31-20.
The Gladiators started the next drive on their own five-yard line and ended it with offensive lineman Kitt O’Brien making a seven-yard catch for a touchdown. Dieker’s pass to wide receiver Thyron Collins was good for Cleveland’s two-point conversion and decreased Pittsburgh’s lead to 31-28 to end the first half.
The Gladiators opened the second half and after four attempts at a first down, the Power took possession with Grady finding Kauleinamoku for a 20-yard catch for a touchdown to make the score 38-28. Following, Power backup quarterback Arvell Nelson recovered the Gladiator’s fumbled kickoff return in Pittsburgh’s own end zone to enhance the score to 45-28. Cleveland ended the third quarter with a 13-yard Dieker to Collins catch to make the score 45-35 heading into the final fifteen minutes of play.
Cleveland started the fourth quarter with a four-yard touchdown run by Dieker to narrow their deficit to three points and after a Pittsburgh fumble, Dieker rushed for a four-yard touchdown to get Cleveland their first lead of the game, 49-45. With 12:15 remaining, the Gladiators kept their momentum, adding another touchdown with a 34-yard pass from Dieker to Lewis to steady their lead, 56-45.
After both team’s going back-to-back with touchdowns, the clock ran out of time with the Gladiators ahead and a final score of 63-53 .
The Power return to action on Saturday, March 29, hosting the San Jose SaberCats. Kickoff at CONSOL Energy Center is set for 5:00 pm. The game will be televised on thisTV Pittsburgh and broadcast on TribLIVE Radio.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Eric Dieker, Cleveland
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Virgil Gray, Pittsburgh
J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME
Tommy Grady, Pittsburgh
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME
Pittsburgh’s Shawn Kauleinamoku touchdown grab in the third quarter.
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Pittsburgh’s Arvell Nelson net recovery returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.