By TIM WARSINSKEY
Northeast Ohio Media Group
“No!” They did not.
The Cleveland Gladiators lost ArenaBowl XXVII to the Arizona Rattlers, 72-32, in front of 18,410 fans who had little opportunity to rattle the walls of Quicken Loans Arena with chants of “Yes! Yes! Yes!’’
Arizona’s defense instead answered with a big fat “No! No! No!” in the form of three first-half interceptions and a safety that paved the way to a 44-13 halftime lead.
Arizona (18-3) won its third consecutive Arena Football League championship game, defeating ArenaBowl rookie Cleveland (19-2) in a game that had been billed as “Dynasty vs. Destiny.’’ The Gladiators seemed to be the latter, having shocked the league with the most successful and most dramatic season in AFL history. They won six games on the final play and set league records for victories and winning percentage.
But destiny in this case meant that Cleveland’s championship drought would continue. The city has not seen a pro sports title since the Crunch’s indoor soccer championship in 1999. Cleveland fans of footballs with pointy ends have been waiting since 1964.
The Gladiators were mistake-prone on offense, defense and special teams, and had no answer for Arizona quarterback Nick Davila.
The Arizona quarterback was playing in his fourth straight ArenaBowl, and he became the first quarterback to win three in a row.
Davila threw eight touchdown passes and one interception. He completed 19 of 24 passes for 241 yards.