The Tampa Bay Storm (2-2, 0-0) heads to the “Rock and Roll Capital of The World” when it takes on the Cleveland Gladiators (2-2, 1-1) in the second of a three game season series this Friday, April 24 at Quicken Loans Arena. Fans will be able to listen to the game on 1250 AM WHNZ or on the Lightning Power Play which can be found on the iHeartRadio app or TBLPowerPlay.com. In addition, fans can watch the game live on the WatchESPN app. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. EST.
This is the 17th meeting between Tampa Bay and the Gladiators, and fifth in Cleveland. The Storm has not fared well on the road, with a losing record of 1-3 when leaving AMALIE Arena. Last time these two teams squared off, the Storm fell by a score of 60-44. However, since their week one matchup, the Storm defense has picked up the pace, and held its opponents to an average of 32.3 points per game. The 60 points allowed were the most the Storm has given up this season.
The Storm enters the week with one of the top defenses in the League, allowing just 39.2 points per game, good for second. The team also boasts the top defense in several categories including total defense (223.2) and pass defense (206.2). Coming into this week’s matchup the Storm has allowed a total of two touchdowns over six quarters, limiting opponents to a total of 23 points. The Storm is only one of two teams that has held an opponent to under 40 points twice this season, with the other being the San Jose SaberCats.
Look for Storm nose guard Richard Clebert and the rest of the defensive line to continue to apply the pressure; however they will have a tough task at hand with the Gladiators allowing just one sack in four games. But, with pressure comes turnovers and mistakes, something that the defensive backfield will look to capitalize on. With an opportunistic defense, the Storm will be able to get the ball back in the hands of the offense.
The offense is led by Jason Boltus who comes into the game with a TD:INT ratio of 11:1. Last week he completed 19-of-29 passes for 224 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions. The offensive line was also a key to success in last week’s game, with the crew not allowing a sack. In order for the team to have success offensively, Boltus will need to be protected from start to finish. The team will have to be on its game in Cleveland, as it faces a defense that has nine sacks on the season, good for second in the League. Four of those sacks came in the season opener versus the Storm.
The Gladiators come into the game following a 63-48 loss to the Philadelphia Soul in week 4. Quarterback Shane Austin leads the offense, having completed 83-of-138 pass attempts for 1,021 yards and 23 touchdowns. Austin has thrown five interceptions on the season. One of his go-to receivers is Dominick Goodman, who has the ability to make an immediate impact on the playing field. Goodman leads the team with 62 points scored, a mark good for fifth overall in the League.
Look for both teams to come out strong. The fans will be sure to see some hard hitting action, with both teams looking to prove their worth and earn a winning record.