Power coach gets 50th win by knocking off unbeaten Gladiators
The Power have had more exciting victories, ones with plenty more touchdowns, points and drama.
But it’s doubtful the fourth-year franchise has a more impactful win than the 48-34 upset of the previously unbeaten Cleveland Gladiators on Saturday at Consol Energy Center.
Just don’t start talking about playoffs.
“I would have to say this is a marquee win for the franchise,” coach Ron James said. “But there’s a lot of football left to be played. We haven’t done anything to put ourselves in a playoff position. We’re not there yet.
“But for the franchise, yeah, I can’t remember a time where a (Power) team had beaten an undefeated team on their home field. It’s great.”
Receiver Tyrone Goard caught four touchdown passes. Linebacker Arvell Nelson had two interceptions, both off tipped balls. Defensive back Al Phillips also picked off a pair of passes.
Quarterback Tommy Grady connected on 18 of 36 passes for 251 yards and five touchdowns. Five completions went to Goard, who led the Power with 80 receiving yards. Prechae Rodriguez caught six passes for 77 yards.
The win is the 50th all-time for James. It’s also the fifth straight for the Power (8-3) since a 55-28 loss at Cleveland on April 26. The Power have won those games by an average of 11.6 points.
With one more win, the Power can tie the franchise record (set in 2011) for the most victories in a season.
“Coach was telling us how Cleveland was the cocky team, talking about how they were going to be 1-0 this week,” Goard said. “That was our goal, too. The team that played the hardest and wanted it the most came out on top.”
Cleveland (9-1) scored on its opening drive of the second half to tie the score at 21-21, but Grady found Goard late in the quarter to give the Power a 28-21 lead.
On the Gladiators’ next drive, Nelson picked off a pass and returned it for a score, pushing the Power in front 35-21.
Grady connected with Goard on a 39-yard bomb midway through the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 41-28 before fullback Tommy Taggart added a 1-yard score to make it 48-28, allowing the crowd of 5,348 to exhale.
The Power allowed Cleveland quarterback Shane Austin to throw for 271 yards and four touchdowns, but the team’s top-ranked defense — playing without AFL interceptions leader Virgil Gray — hardly was intimidated.
“Last game we played them, we felt like we got outphysicaled,” Nelson said. “We weren’t worried about the numbers he put up or whatever. We just wanted to be physical and play our game.”