Kats Defeat Gladiators Convincingly, Keep Playoff Hopes Alive
LAS VEGAS- The Nashville Kats (6-8, 2-4) defeated the Las Vegas Gladiators (2-12, 1-5) 63-48 in front of 5,072 Sunday afternoon at the Orleans Arena. En route to extending their record to 2-1 in 2007 on Sunday contests, the Kats also kept their hunt for the 2007 AFL playoffs alive with only two regular-season games remaining with the win. Offensive Player of the Game Dan Alexander rushed for five touchdowns breaking the Kats single-season record for most in a season with 38. Defensive Player of the Game Ahmad Hawkins logged his AFL single-season tying 13th interception of the season while Ironman of the Game honors went to C.J. Johnson who had two touchdown catches and returned a kickoff 56-yards for a touchdown. The win pushed the Kats to 2-1 all-time vs. the Gladiators winning the past two contests both on the road against Las Vegas.
Noting the importance of their match-up with the Gladiators and the significance in regards to their playoff lives, the Kats opened the contest blazing, literally, when Kats WR/KR C.J. Johnson returned the opening kickoff 56-yards for a touchdown. The kickoff returned for a TD was only the second of the season, the first coming when DB Ahmad Hawkins returned an onside kick 15-yards for a score early in the season. Not to be outdone, the Gladiators responded with a three-play drive in which QB Nick Rolovich was 3-for-3 catapulting on a nine-yard touchdown pass to FB Joshua Rue to tie the score at 7. On the ensuing drive, FB Dan Alexander would continue his single-season rushing dominance by scoring his 34th rushing touchdown of the season. WR Terrance Quattlebaum would score his first touchdown of the day on a five-yard run off the left side to tie the score at 14 at the end of the first quarter.
On the first play of the second-quarter, Alexander rushed for his second touchdown of the day, this time on a three-yard rumble off the left side putting the Kats ahead 21-14. Las Vegas' speedy playmaker Quattlebaum got the Gladiators back in the game when he broke two tackles and willed his way into the endzone on a 15-yard pass from Rolovich. With the Kats up 28-21 after a C.J. Johnson seven-yard TD catch, the Kats tired of trading scores with the Gladiators, DL/LB Brian Howard forced QB Rolovich to fumble which was recovered by just activated Aaron McConnell (IR). The Kats would respond with a three-play drive that ended with Alexander rushing for his third TD of the half extending the Kats lead to 14 with 1:00 remaining in the first half. Rolovich redeemed his earlier fumble by finding rookie WR Travis LaTendresse in the endzone on a 25-yard pass and catch to close the second quarter.
After getting the football to start the third-quarter, Las Vegas promptly marched down the field on the Kats on a five-play yard-munching drive. Unfortunately on the fifth play, Rolovich pressured by Kat linemen and was picked off by Kats playmaker Ahmad Hawkins. The interception was Hawkins' 13th of the season, tying the record for most in a season. Seizing the opportunity, Nashville capitalized on the turnover when Smoker threw his second touchdown of the day, finding Johnson for 11-yards and extending the score to 42-28 Kats. Las Vegas' attempt to get the score closer was halted when Quattlebaum fumbled on the Nashville four-yard line. The fumble recovery was Ahmad Hawkins' second consecutive takeaway. At the end of the third quarter, Nashville lead 42-28.
After being held scoreless in the third quarter, the Gladiators started the fourth with points when Rolovich connected with rising star LaTendresse for a 45-yard score cutting Nashville's lead to 14 with just under 13:00 remaining in the contest. Two plays after a 36-yard over-the-shoulder catch by WR Kenny Higgins, Alexander would rumble into the endzone for his fifth of the day to make the score 56-35 Kats in the middle of the fourth quarter. The teams would trade scores and Marlion Jackson would get another rushing touchdown but in the end, Nashville would run the time out with QB Smoker hauling footballs into the crowd, leaving the score 63-48 Kats.
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Arena Football League (1987-2008) Stories from June 10, 2007
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- Kats Defeat Gladiators Convincingly, Keep Playoff Hopes Alive - Nashville Kats
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