ANAHEIM, CA-The Cleveland Gladiators (4-0) had too much fire power in the end for the LA KISS(2-2) to handle in a 40-30 defeat. It was a back and forth battle until the fourth quarter when the lone touchdown in the period belonged to the Gladiators to secure the victory for the visiting team. These two teams slugged it out on the field and outside lines as well. The Gladiators shut down the Kiss in Red zone late in game which was the difference.
Cleveland quarterback Chris Dieker spread the ball around to all his receivers. The hottest hand was a local player. Southern California and Westchester High School star Thyron Lewis put up three touchdowns and had 76 yards receiving during the game. Lewis was clearly in a league of his own tonight on the field.
LA KISS quarterback J.J. Raterink lit up stat line throwing for a game-high 259 yards with four touchdowns, but he had a few plays that he left on the field. Looking back on the game, there were some opportunities for the LA KISS, but the team was not able to take advantage of them, allowing the squad a second setback on the young season.
The first half was almost dominated by Cleveland but the kicking game left them behind each score. LA KISS kept striking back, slowly making its extra points count. Midway through the second quarter with LA KISS up 14-12 after a four- yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Markee White, the tone was set. The two teams were pretty feisty against one another with both teams receiving unsportsmanlike penalties. LA KISS defensive back Dexter McCoil was even ejected for throwing a punch during one of the exchanges to leave them shorthanded. The Gladiators took a slim two-point lead into the half, going up 19-17.
The KISS’ defense only reached Dieker once in the game, giving him time to pass freely. That put most of the pressure on the team’s defensive backfield to slow the scoring down. Andre Jones did his best keeping the receivers in front of him, accounting for five tackles in the first half , and finished the game with eight.
To start the third quarter, Raterick drove his team 49 yards in seven plays finding favorite wide receiver DJ Morgan for a 10-yard touchdown reception. KISS kicker Kenny Spencer then followed Cleveland’s motto of missing extra the point, making score 23-17 in favor of the home team. The two teams traded scores in the quarter.
The KISS kept it close but was not the last team standing; it was the still undefeated Gladiators. The KISS will get back to work this week during practice and prepare for their next game on the road. The LA KISS will travel to play the Iowa Barnstomers (2-2). That game is scheduled for April 19.