September 14, 2014

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Gladiators to host playoff game

Staff and wire reports

CLEVELAND — Raymond Philyaw threw six touchdown passes on Saturday night, leading the Cleveland Gladiators into the playoffs with a 47-35 victory over the Columbus Destroyers.

Rookie Randy Hymes had four catches for 78 yards and three touchdowns, and Otis Amey added three catches for 71 yards and two scores for the Gladiators (9-7), who clinched a berth in the Arena Football League playoffs in their first season in Cleveland. They previously played in Las Vegas and New Jersey.

The late Cleveland Thunderbolts, who relocated from Columbus, also qualified for the postseason in their first year at The Coliseum in 1992.

Matt Nagy threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns, and C.J. Johnson had 11 catches for 173 yards and one touchdown for the Destroyers (3-13), who are less than a year removed from a loss in the ArenaBowl.

The win earned Cleveland the fourth seed in the National Conference playoffs and a June 30 home game against the Orlando Predators. The contest kicks off at 7 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.

“I can’t wait for Monday Night Football at The Q,” Gladiators president Bernie Kosar said. “I know the greatest fans in the world will come out and support our guys as we make our run for the ArenaBowl in New Orleans.”

The Gladiators earned the home game when the Philadelphia Soul (owned by rock legend and perennial heartthrob Jon Bon Jovi) beat the New York Dragons 59-30 on Sunday afternoon.

Tickets for the Cleveland vs. Orlando postseason matchup go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the Quicken Loans Arena box office, all TicketMaster locations and via phone at 216-685-9000.

Gladiators officials have kept ticket prices the same as in the regular season, meaning fans can take in the excitement for as little as $13.

In other AFL first round matchups, New York travels to Dallas, Colorado visits Utah, and Grand Rapids plays in Arizona. All of the opening-round encounters will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Byes were given to Chicago and San Jose in the American Conference, and Philadelphia and Georgia in the National. They will face the survivors in the divisional playoffs.

A total of 12 teams qualified in the AFL, three of which had 6-10 records.

ArenaBowl XXII is July 27 at the New Orleans Arena. No Cleveland-based AFL franchise has ever advanced beyond the opening round of play.