The Baltimore Brigade (2-6) dropped a 59-48 decision to the Cleveland Gladiators (3-7) Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Despite a career-high seven touchdowns from QB Shane Carden, the Brigade were unable to overcome the performance of Cleveland QB Arvell Nelson, who accounted for nine total touchdowns and took home the game’s MVP award.
Cleveland took an early 7-0 lead when Nelson found WR Quentin Sims for a 46-yard touchdown on the second play of the game. The Gladiators extended their lead to 14-0 just minutes later, following a Brigade fumble, when Nelson recorded his second touchdown of the game, a one-yard run. Baltimore got on the board with 4:43 remaining in the first quarter when Carden found FB Rory Nixon for a four-yard touchdown pass. Sims wasted no time finding the end zone for the second time, hauling in a 25-yard pass with 3:35 left in the first, giving Cleveland a 20-7 lead. WR Brandon Thompkins returned the favor for the Brigade, gathering a 31-yard pass from Carden to bring Baltimore within a score. Quarterback play dominated the second quarter as Carden and Nelson each traded a pair of touchdowns over a nine-minute span, including a six-yarder to Brigade WR Julian Talley. With just six seconds left in the half, Nelson scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, giving the Gladiators a 40-28 lead at half.
The Brigade started the second half strong as Carden found Talley for a 39-yard touchdown just over a minute into the third quarter. The touchdown, which brought the score to 40-35, marked the sixth straight week Talley scored two-or-more receiving touchdowns. Three consecutive Gladiators’ scores – all Nelson touchdown passes – gave Cleveland a 59-35 lead. With 1:23 left in the third quarter, WR Reggie Gray, playing in his first game since Week 4 due to a collarbone injury, found the end zone on a nine-yard pass from Carden, cutting the Cleveland lead to 59-42. The Brigade scored another touchdown 1:31 left in the contest, but Cleveland held on for the 59-48 win.
KEY STAT: Brigade rookie QB Shane Carden became the first rookie since Adam Kennedy (Week 19, 2014 vs. ORL) to throw for seven TDs in a game.
MVP: Cleveland QB Arvell Nelson – 21-32 passing, 258 yards, nine total touchdowns (seven passing, two rushing.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Cleveland WR Quentin Sims – six receptions, 109 yards and three touchdowns
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Cleveland DB Kenny Veal – five solo tackles, four tackle assists and an interception
The Brigade return home next weekend, hosting the Washington Valor on Fri., June 23 at 7 p.m. at Royal Farms Arena.