Gladiators, Sabercats Set to Clash
Date: Monday, February 6, 2006 Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Pacific Site: Thomas and Mack Center (Las Vegas, NV) Officials: Referee: Perry Havener, Umpire: Tom Laverty, Head Linesman: Rusty Baynes, Line Judge: David Meslow, Back Judge: Barry Anderson.
THE GAME CAN BE HEARD... On in Las Vegas with Andrew Siciliano handling play-by-play and Mike Pritchard with color commentary.
THE GAME CAN BE SEEN... .
THE SERIES - GLADIATORS VS. SABERCATS Sabercats lead 4-1
This will be the sixth meeting between the teams. The Gladiators are 1-2 at home and 0-2 on the road versus San Jose. In the last meeting between the two, San Jose outscored Las Vegas 81-75 in week 8. The game was played in front of 9,277 at The Thomas and Mack Center.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
If the Gladiators win, it would - Give the Gladiators a 2-4 overall record versus San Jose - Give Las Vegas a 1-1 overall record - Give Las Vegas a 1-0 home record
AUSTIN RUSHES PAST LAS VEGAS 64-46.
Jan 27, 2006. Austin, Texas- The Austin Wranglers steered past the Las Vegas Gladiators 64-46 behind quarterback John Fitzgerald who was 18-32 for 177 yards with two TD's through the air and two on the ground. The Wrangler offense scored on seven of their first eight possessions and converted three first half Gladiator turnovers into points. In total the Wranglers scored 5 touchdowns on the ground.
After a 7-7 first quarter score, Las Vegas was outscored 34-7 in the second quarter and trailed at halftime 41-14. The Gladiators (0-1) twice pulled within two scores, but could not seem to have an answer for the Wranglers (1-0). The Gladiators were lead by QB Craig Whelihan who was 21-38 for 330 yards 6 TD's and 2 INT's. 2004 AFL offensive MVP Marcus Nash hauled in 8 catches for 108 yards and 3 scores.
Las Vegas out gained Austin in total offense 346 yards to 228 yards. The Gladiators also lost the turnover battle losing the ball four times compared to two for Austin.
The Gladiators (0-1) will host the San Jose Sabercats for their home opener at the Thomas and Mack Center on Monday, February 6th at 7:30 p.m. (pacific).
WHELIHAN AT THE TOP Much was made of the change at the helm for the 2006 Gladiator roster. Fifth year pro, Craig Whelihan has gotten off to a hot start leading the AFL in yards (330), has the longest AFL touchdown passing touchdown(45yds), is tied for second in touchdown passes (6), and is eighth in passer rating (101.9). "Wheels" as he known to his team, is no stranger to being the primary signal-caller. Whelihan spent time as a starter for the Orlando Predators and the San Diego Chargers of the NFL.
ZOE-LOOKS TO SETTLE IN Former Ohio State defensive lineman Alonzo Spellman is a rookie no-more. After starting at NT and recording one tackle versus Austin in week one, Spellman looks to adapt his game to the AFL's quicker, faster pace. The former three-year pro-bowler has maintained his tremendous speed, strength, and agility that made him one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL.
NICK OF TIME Gladiator rookie Nick Davis (Texas A&M Kingsville) has made an immediate impact on the defensive side of the ball. After week one, Davis rates in the top ten, in three statistical defensive categories; including total tackles.
HOME SWEET HOME? MAYBE Las Vegas looks to improve on a 4-4 home record last year. All playoff bound teams last year had a .500 record or better in their backyard. As ticket sales are up this year, Las Vegas looks towards the 9th man to be the difference.
BLALOCK CLOSING IN WR/DB Coco Blalock is closing in on three milestone achievements this season. 3,000 receiving yards, 50 receiving touchdowns, and 3,000 kick-off return yards. He currently has 2,761 receiving yards, 40 touchdown receptions, and 2,467 return yards. If Coco stays healthy there is a realistic chance he will chase down all three landmarks this season.
LAS VEGAS FACES FAMILIAR FOE The Gladiators host western conference rival San Jose Sabercats on Monday, February 6. San Jose holds a 4-1 overall record against Las Vegas. They last met in week eight last season, San Jose came into the Thomas and Mack Center and outscored the Gladiators 81-75. Both teams are off to a 0-1 start this season, this game is crucial to staying out of the western conference basement. MR. MARCUS OS Marcus Nash returns to the Gladiators for his third season in 2006. After being named the League's Offensive Player of the Year in 2004 when he shattered the record books with 154 receptions for 1,771 yards and 46 receiving touchdowns, Nash totaled 131 receptions for a league leading 1769 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2005. Nash leads all AFL players over the past two seasons in receptions with 277, yards with 3540 and touchdowns with 87.
THE WHEELS ON THE BUS Gladiators starting quarterback Craig Whelihan is no stranger to being a team's No. 1 signal caller. Wheels was the starting quarterback for the San Diego Chargers (NFL) during the 1997-1998 seasons and led the Orlando Predator (AFL) to the playoffs as the starting quarterback in the 2001 season. In two starts for the Gladiators last season, Whelihan threw for 544 yards and 10 touchdowns against only two interceptions.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN When the Gladiators take the field on Friday, January 27th, against the Wranglers in Austin, it will mark the third time in four years that the Glads have opened the season on the road. The only season they opened at home since moving to Las Vegas was the 2005 season, when the beat the LA Avengers in Week 1 46-37 at the Thomas & Mack Center.
INJURY BUG Las Vegas got hit relatively hard by the injury bug during their 2006 training camp. Out with injuries for at least the first two weeks will be WR/LB Joe Douglass, OL/DL Steve Konopka (ankle), OL/DL Paul LaQuerre (ankle), WR/LB Junior Lord (ankle), WR/DB Ivory McCann (hamstring) and DS Kevin Williams (hamstring).
KICKERS EDGE Following a season where Las Vegas' kicker missed 18 extra points, Special Teams Coach Gary Gussman brought in new blood to challenge for the job. AFL rookie, but af2 veteran, Eric Houle emerged from camp as the the Red & Black's No. 1 kicker, prompting the Glads to trade incumbent Mark Lewis to the Columbus Destroyers during the last week of camp. Houle converted on 86% of his PAT attempts and made 11 field goals in 2005 while playing for the Rio Grande Dorados.
CENTURY MARK Gladiators OL/DL Wilky Bazile is only one of 23 players in the AFL with at least 10 years experience in the league. Bazile broke into the AFL in 1996 with the Charlotte Rage. He has played for nine teams throughout his career, including the Gladiators twice (2002-03, 05-06).
HILL TOPPER After spending the past two seasons as mainly a two-way player, missing more than half the game with a knee injury, TJ Hill will return to his natural position at defensive secialist in 2006. Playing a full season at DS in 2003, Hill finished second on the Gladiators with 63.5 tackles and second with four interceptions.
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