Pittsburgh Power: Cleveland rocks the Power: Mike Washington catches franchise record 13 passes en route to being AFL Playmaker of the Week


The Pittsburgh Power led their first conference matchup against their rival Cleveland Gladiators 21-7 however were unable to keep the momentum losing 58-43 and falling to 2-5 on the season.

“They flipped the possession battle,” Power Head Coach Chris Seigfried said. “They didn’t panic when they got behind. They did a solid job. They did what they had to do. They made the plays they had to make and we didn’t. It’s really quite simple.”

Bryan Randall got the start at quarterback for the Pittsburgh Power and thus became the fourth Power quarterback to start a game and fifth overall this season. Seigfried gave Randall the start over Derek Cassidy because of what he saw in practice.

Randall rewarded Seigfried early on with his first touchdown pass, a jump ball that was caught in the end zone by Christian Wise to give the Power a 7-0 lead.

The first Gladiators offensive possession also got the crowd of 6,034 excited as Chris Leflore got his team leading and franchise high sixth interception of the season. He tried to run it back for a touchdown but was tackled at the Gladiators one yard line.

“I knew they got the ball to midfield so in my head, I’m thinking they’re going to take a shot,” Leflore said. “It just depended on whether they were going to run a post or a corner. I just tried to play honest, and play deep and make a play on the ball.”

The Power established momentum and possession after the first quarter as the team led 21-14.

Things then began to unravel after the Gladiator kickoff took a bounce off the netting that P.J. Berry could not handle. Cleveland recovered the football and quickly tied the game.

On the next Power possession, Randall showed his inexperience throwing an interception to Joe Phinisee that was returned for a touchdown by the Gladiators and gave the team their first lead of the game.

The Power were outscored in the second quarter 28-6 and those two Power miscues ultimately spun the game around in Cleveland’s favor.

Looking back on the game, Randall understands that he was able to throw five touchdowns, but his two interceptions came at critical points in the game and ruined what could have been a great first start.

“As a quarterback you always remember the things you didn’t do well, especially when you lose, Randall said. “ Numbers to me really don’t matter. Turnovers, that’s what I think about. Touchdown passes are going to come, but those two turnovers are what need to be corrected. I can’t turn the ball over. We need to score pretty much every time we touch the ball. In this game turnovers will kill you.”

The quarterback position has been a thorn to the Power’s side this season, something Seigfried said is holding his team back.

            “This is a quarterback driven league,” Seigfried said. “We are experiencing a situation where we haven’t benefitted in having an ultra-experienced quarterback. I’m looking at the big picture here and trying to find the right guy for the long term that’s going to be here in Pittsburgh. I think that one of the guys is already here. I’m looking for a guy to take the job. I don’t need them to tell me they’re going to take the job. I need them to take the job and help lead this team where it needs to where it needs to go.”

While the quarterback position was not clicking, wide receiver Mike Washington certainly was. His franchise record 13 catches went for 170 yards and culminated in three touchdowns.

“Mike’s a fighter,” Seigfried said. “It’s his personality and one of the biggest things I love about him. He’s in the weight room every week. He never misses a practice. I don’t think in a season-and-a-half he’s ever missed a practice. He’s got a huge heart. I need other guys that are going to be like that… He works hard during practice. He got his ankle stepped on the other day, and five minutes later he’s back on the field. You cannot keep that man off the field.”

The Power trailed 42-27 at the half and surrendered another touchdown to the Gladiators to start the third quarter. Despite the losing score, many Power fans had to feel a little bit of déjà vu after just two weeks before, the Power came back when things appeared bleak against the Orlando Predators.

“No lead is safe,” Seigfried said. “I thought we had a chance when we got the ball back at the end of the game down 15. All we had to do was score and get the onside kick. That’s not an insurmountable lead. That’s just the nature of Arena Football.”

Ultimately the Power never got it going in the second half and took the loss.

Leflore understands that the losing record is not promising, and hopes that his team can rally back and start winning games.

“You’ve just got to throw the record out and play with heart, just like we did when we came back from Orlando and made an effort tonight to come back against Cleveland,” Leflore said. “The record doesn’t matter because if we’re 5-2 we still have to play hard, finish each game hard and go 1-0 each week just like it’s the playoffs.”

Game Notes:

The Power will next face the Georgia Force on May 5th. The game will be played at Consol Energy Center and the game will begin at 8 PM. It will be Superhero Night and the first 5,000 fans will receive a first-edition Avengers comic book. The Power also encourage fans to dress like their favorite superhero for a chance to win season tickets and prizes. The Force are 3-4 on the season and 1-2 on the road.

Power quarterback and former Pittsburgh Panther Bill Stull is eligible to come off of injured reserve this week but at the time this article was written, that has not occurred. According to Seigfried, Randall will start Saturday.

Power activated former Pitt wide receiver Oderick Turner off of injured reserve and he will play Saturday. Seigfried expects regular fullback Tyre Young to be back in the lineup as well.

300 lucky fans got to meet and receive autographs from Steelers Hall of Famers Lynn Swann, Mel Blount and Jack Ham. All fans received a Power program upon entry to the game and the opening page allowed for them to find out if they had won.

The Power fell to 2-4 when they lost to the New Orleans Voodoo 51-48. The Power had their opportunities and led most of the game, however kicker Collin Wagner missed a field goal as time expired. Wagner missed three field goals and an extra point on the game.

A bright side for the Power in the New Orleans loss was P.J. Berry was named JLS Ironman of the Week for the third straight week. Berry had a 57 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Berry also passed for a touchdown.

Derek Cassidy got the start and passed for five touchdowns and one interception.

Power vs Gladiators Scoring Summary 4/28/12

 1st Quarter:

Power: Wise 13 yard pass from Randall (Wagner kick good) 7-0 10:03

Power: Berry 1 yard run (Wagner kick good) 14-0 8:15

Gladiators: Aumaitre 17 yard pass from Dutton (Pettrey kick good) 14-7 4:52

Power: Washington 31 yard pass from Randall (Wagner kick good) 21-7 3:41

Gladiators: Redd 19 yard pass from Dutton (Pettrey kick good) 21-14 0:14

2nd Quarter

Gladiators: Goodman 12 yard pass from Dutton (Pettrey kick good) 21-21 14:26

Gladiators: Phinisee 37 yard interception return (Pettrey kick good) 28-21 10:49

Gladiators: Richardson 2 yard run (Pettrey kick good) 35-21 1:41

Gladiators: Goodman 20 yard pass from Dutton (Pettrey kick good) 42-21 0:43

Power: Washington 12 yard pass from Randall (Wagner kick no good) 42-27

3rd Quarter

Gladiators: Goodman 6 yard pass from Dutton (Pettrey kick good) 49-27 11:30

Power: Hymes 10 yard pass from Randall (Wagner kick good) 49-34 8:14

Gladiators: Pettrey 17 yard field goal 52-34 2:10

4th Quarter

Power: Washington 24 yard pass from Randall (Wagner kick good) 52-41 14:53

Gladiators: Goodman 15 yard from Dutton (Pettrey kick blocked) 58-41 11:10

Power: Stevenson PAT return 58-43 11:10

Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: Dominick Goodman-CLE

Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Joe Phinisee-CLE

JLS Ironman: Robert Redd-CLE

AFL Playmaker of the Game: Mike Washington-PIT

Cutters Catch of the Game: Mike Washington’s 2nd TD-PIT

Spalding Highlight of the Game: Chris LeFlore’s INT-PIT

National Guard MVP: Dominick Goodman- CLE

American Conference- East Division Standings

Philadelphia Soul 6-1

Cleveland Gladiators 4-3

Milwaukee Mustangs 2-4

Pittsburgh Power 2-5