PITTSBURGH, PA – (May 25, 2013) – Pittsburgh’s Steven Sheffield threw for six touchdown and ran for one more to lead the Power to a 55-44 come-from-behind victory in front of 5,340 at CONSOL Energy Center tonight. The Power, who were down 44-28 with 13:58 to play in the 4th quarter, ended the game by scoring 27 straight points.
With the victory, the Power improved to 3-6 and 2-0 in the division and recorded their first home victory of the season. Cleveland fell to 2-7 overall and 1-1 in divisional play. The Power are currently in sole possession of the final American Conference playoff spot with Orlando’s loss this evening.
On the game’s opening possession, the Power defense held the Gladiators to -1 yards forcing Cleveland into a 62-yard field goal attempt that was wide right. However, the Power could not capitalize, missing a 53-yard field goal try. After stopping the Gladiators on their next possession, Sheffield connected with Mike Washington for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Cleveland tied the score at 7-7 on Bryan Zbydniewski‘s 19-yard touchdown throw to Thyron Lewis on the final of the play of the 1st quarter.
The Power took a 14-7 lead early in the 2nd quarter on Sheffield’s 32-yard touchdown pass newly activated Kenny Stafford, the Cutters Catch Of The Game. The Gladiators tied the score at 14-14 on Terrill Byrd’s 3-yard touchdown rush. Pittsburgh regained the lead at 21-14 on a Sheffield 6-yard touchdown rush that was set up by a 28-yard completion to Julian Talley. Cleveland tied the game at 21-21 on Jamar Howard’s 12-yard touchdown catch from Zbydniewski. The Power went up 28-21 on Stafford’s 17-yard touchdown catch from Sheffield. Cleveland closed out the first half quarter scoring on Aaron Pettrey’s 36-yard field goal that sent the game into halftime with the Power leading 28-24, marking the first time Pittsburgh has led at the half in 2013.
On the first play of the 3rd quarter, Sheffield completed a 32-yard pass to Stafford to the Cleveland 17-yard line. However, the Power failed to score when Julian Rauch’s field goal attempt was wide right. Cleveland capitalized on the turnover and took its first lead of the game at 31-28 three plays later on Carlese Franklin’s 3-yard touchdown run. Cleveland added to their lead after LaRoche Jackson recovered a Sheffield fumble at the Pittsburgh 21-yard line, which led to Dominick Goodman’s 6-yard touchdown catch from Zbydniewski, which made the score 38-28 heading into the 4th quarter.
On the second play of the quarter, Cleveland’s Joe Phinisee, the Riddell Defensive Player Of The Game, intercepted Sheffield and returned the ball 49 yards for a touchdown, which was also the AFL Highlight Of The Game, which increased the Gladiators lead to 44-28. Cleveland would not score the rest of the contest.
The Power answered on the ensuing kickoff with Chris LeFlore’s (the J. Lewis Small Playmaker Of The Game) 56-yard return for a touchdown which cut the deficit to 10 points at 44-34. After the Power’s defense held Cleveland to a 4-and-out on their next possession, Sheffield found Washington in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown catch which made the score 44-41. Pittsburgh stopped Cleveland for the second straight series, as Pettrey’s 64-yard field goal attempt sailed into the seats, which gave the Power the ball at their own 20-yard line. Washington would give the Power the lead, catching his third touchdown of the game that made the score 48-44 with 2:39 remaining. Power defensive back Brandon Freeman intercepted Zbydniewski on the next play from scrimmage, giving the Power the ball at their own 16-yard line. On the next play, Talley caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Sheffield, the Russell Athletic Player Of The Game, with 1:04 remaining. Pittsburgh’s defense stopped Cleveland once again, making the final score 55-44.
The 55 points marked the Power’s highest point total of the season, and their 11-point win was their largest margin of victory. The home win at CONSOL Energy Center also stopped an 11-game home losing streak dating back to April 14, 2012 – a win over the Orlando Predators, which ironically also featured a large comeback in the second half (31 points-the largest in AFL history).
The Power visit the Jacksonville Sharks next Saturday, June 1. Kickoff from Jacksonville’s Veterans Memorial Auditorium is at 7:00 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on both thisTV Pittsburgh and TribLIVE Radio SportsTalk. Pittsburgh’s next home game is Saturday, June 15 against the division-leading Philadelphia Soul at 7:00 p.m.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Steven Sheffield – Pittsburgh
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Joe Phinisee – Cleveland
J. LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME
Chris LeFlore – Pittsburgh
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME
Pittsburgh’s Kenny Stafford’s 32-yard touchdown catch from Steven Sheffield in the 2nd quarter
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Cleveland’s Joe Phinisee’s 49-yard interception return for touchdown in the 4th quarter