(Anaheim) – The LA KISS gave up the last 14 points of the game and fell to Cleveland 40-30 in a see-saw battle Saturday night at Honda Center. The KISS led 30-26 late in the third quarter but never scored again despite having a golden opportunity in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile the Gladiators came up with two big plays to finish it off.
Down by four Shane Austin hit Thyron Lewis for a 25 yard score to give the Gladiators a 33-30 lead. The KISS had responded all evening and expected to again when they drove down to the Cleveland five yard line. But the Gladiator front stuffed the KISS on four straight plays on the ground. KISS quarterback JJ Raterink was stopped on a keeper from the one yard line on fourth down giving Cleveland the ball back and with just over five minutes left that was the ball game.
“No matter what level of football you’re playing you have to get in from there,” Raterink said. “We’ll have something better next time.”
“We were able to run the ball pretty well before. We have a good offensive line and we felt we could punch it in,” said KISS Coach Bob McMillen. “We didn’t and that hurt us. We’ll need to look at the film and see what happened.”
There were eight lead changes in all before Cleveland took control in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland scored first on a on a five yard pass from Austin to Dominick Goodman in the first quarter but the extra point was missed. The KISS responded with a 45 yard TD strike from Raterink to Donovan Morgan to take a 7-6 lead.
Austin hit Lewis on a 11-yard scoring toss early in the second quarter and the Gladiators jumped back in front. The extra point was blocked by the KISS. KISS DB Dextor McCoil is ejected when he threw a closed fist punch during an altercation after the kick was blocked.
On the next possession Raterink found Markee White in the back end of the zone on a four-yard pass and the KISS went back on top 14-12.
Gladiator offensive lineman Corey Howard rumbled in eight yards for a score and Cleveland regained the advantage 19-14.
KISS kicker Kenny Spencer booted a 36-yard field goal to cut the Gladiator lead to 19-17 to close out the first half.
On the first drive of the second half the KISS drive was culminated with a ten-yard pass from Raterink to Morgan. The PAT was missed.
On the ensuing possession Austin hit Tyone Collins with a four yard TD pass and the Glads grabbed the lead.
A long kick off return set up a nine-yard touchdown pass from Raterink to Samie Parker and the KISS jumped ahead again at 30-26. Then the Gladiators took control.
Cleveland immediately answered with a 35-yard pass to a streaking Lewis for another score and a 33-30 lead.
The KISS is then stopped on the goal line and Austin and Lewis promptly hook up again for a 25-yard score to go up 40-30.
The KISS was halted again for the second straight time on downs and Cleveland ate up the rest of the clock.
Raterink completed 23 of 41 for 259 yards and four touchdowns for the KISS while Morgan caught seven passes for 115 yards and two scores. For Cleveland Austin was 21 of 37 for 243 yards and five scores. Lewis was his main target hauling in three touchdown passes for 76 yards. Goodman had nine catches for 77 yards and a score.
Cleveland improved to 4-0 while the KISS dropped to .500 at 2-2.
“I told the team there’s no reason to panic. We’ll get it fixed. We have 14 games left,” McMillen said.