Blaze Take on Gladiators on NFL Network
SALT LAKE CITY – In the franchise’s first nationally televised game of the 2012 season, the Utah Blaze (11-5) will take on the Cleveland Gladiators (7-9) this Friday, July 13th on Tim Dahle Field at EnergySolutions Arena. The game will air live on the NFL Network, with kickoff scheduled for 6:00 PM MT.
Utah is fresh off another successful road trip after taking down the top-ranked Arizona Rattlers in Phoenix, 62-49. The victory keeps the Blaze in the running for the West Division crown, as Utah now owns the tiebreaker over the Rattlers with a 4-2 divisional record. On the same night, Cleveland suffered a 34-55 defeat at the hands of the Orlando Predators (3-13) and sits in second place in the East Division.
Cleveland’s greatest strength lies on defense, where the Gladiators boast the Arena Football League’s top scoring defense (49.1 ppg), as well as its second-ranked total defense (272.9 ypg) and passing defense (252.8 ypg). The unit is adept at getting its hands on the football, and places fifth with 24 total interceptions on the season. DB Levy Brown paces the group with eight picks, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
This week’s matchup should make for an intriguing battle, as Utah owns the most prolific passing attack in the AFL. Led by record-setting quarterback Tommy Grady, the Blaze have posted over 60 points in five of their last seven contests. WR Tysson Poots has been scorching opposing defenses as of late, racking up 62 receptions for 609 yards and 19 touchdowns over the past five games.
“Cleveland has a strong defense that has a knack for forcing turnovers,” said Head Coach Ron James. “We’ve been able to play very efficiently on offense recently. Tommy is playing at a very high level right now and we’ll need another mistake-free effort in order to be successful.”
The Gladiators offense is guided by 12-year Arena Football veteran John Dutton, who’s thrown for 3,907 yards with 76 touchdowns this season. Dutton’s favorite target, WR Dominic Goodman, leads the League with an average of 10.07 receptions per game. In 15 contests, he’s totaled 151 catches for 1,595 yards and 31 touchdowns.
Still, Dutton’s biggest setback this year has been his tendency to turn the ball over. He’s tied for the second-highest number of interceptions in the AFL, throwing 20 picks on the year. That bodes well for a Blaze secondary that recorded two interceptions a week ago in Arizona. As a group, Utah has played stifling defense in recent weeks, allowing just 43 points per game in its last five outings.
“It’s always tough when you’re facing a quarterback with as much experience as John Dutton,” said James. “He understands the nuances of the game and has a solid group of receivers around him. We will need another strong outing from our defense this week, both up front and in the secondary.”
Tickets to the Utah Blaze versus Cleveland Gladiators are still available for purchase. Get your seats today by calling 1-888-99BLAZE, or online at www.utblaze.com! The game can also be heard in the Salt Lake City area on The Zone 97.5 FM/1280 AM, the radio home of the Utah Blaze.
ABOUT THE BLAZE
The Utah Blaze (11-5) holds possession of the third seed in the National Conference playoff race. The team returns to Tim Dahle Field at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday, July 13th to take on the Cleveland Gladiators in a nationally-televised contest on the NFL Network. Tickets for the game are still available for purchase by calling 1-888-99BLAZE, or online at www.utblaze.com. Follow the Utah Blaze on Facebook (facebook.com/utahblaze) and Twitter (@utblaze) for all the latest news and updates.