CLEVELAND — The Utah Blaze (2-3) put forth its most complete effort of the season in a 57-40 victory over the Cleveland Gladiators (1-4) on Saturday night.
Utah dominated the third quarter, outscoring the opponent 21-0 while coming up with three turnovers.
Blaze quarterback Tommy Grady completed 30-of-42 attempts for 300 yards with seven touchdowns before being relieved by backup Jason Boltus in the fourth quarter. Wide receiver Aaron Lesué turned collected a season-high 14 receptions for 156 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively, the Blaze forced five takeaways on the night, coming up with two interceptions and three turnovers on downs. Maurice Leggett led the way for Utah, registering seven tackles with five pass breakups and one interception. David Hyland also notched an interception, as he totaled four tackles and two pass breakups in the game.
Cleveland got on the board first, as wide receiver Jonathan Lewis caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Brian Zbydniewski to take a 7-0 lead. However, wide receiver Mario Urrutia quickly tied the game for the Blaze, hauling in an 11-yard score from Grady.
The Gladiators regained the lead on the following possession, capping off a six-play, 45-yard drive with a quarterback sneak from Zbydniewski. But the Blaze needed just one play to find the end zone, as Grady scrambled to avoid pressure before launching a 36-yard touchdown to a wide-open Lesué.
Crady later capped off a 10-play, 38-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak and Urrutia successfully converted a two-point conversion to a take a 27-21 lead at halftime.
Grady hooked up with Urrutia on a five-yard touchdown completion on the opening possession of the third quarter to put Utah ahead, 33-21. On the ensuing Gladiators drive, defensive back David Hyland went flying over the boards while securing an interception in the end zone to give the ball back to the Blaze. Grady and Lesué successfully converted the turnover into points, as Lesué snared a 16-yard touchdown pass before hauling in the two-point conversion to give Utah a 41-21 advantage.Comment on this story
Defensive back Maurice Leggett halted another Gladiators drive moments later with another interception and Lesué once again found the end zone on the ensuing Blaze possession. Grady hit Lesué from six yards out for a touchdown and Mario Urrutia came down with the two-point conversion, as Utah mounted a 49-21 lead at the end of the third period.
The Blaze will return to Salt Lake City on Saturday to take on the division-rival Spokane Shock. Kickoff from EnergySolutions Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.