KISS run out of firepower in loss to Gladiators

If there was a big opportunity for KISS to make their mark as a top team in the league, Saturday was it.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — As the smoke from the pyrotechnics cleared and the live music faded away, so did the Los Angeles KISS on Saturday night.

The KISS were coming off an unforgettable home opener just the week before with momentum on their side.

Looking to make a mark on the field as not only a sideshow, but a team that can contend for a title, KISS fell short, 40-30, to the undefeated Cleveland Gladiators Saturday night at the Honda Center.

Cleveland entered as one of the only two undefeated teams in the AFL and if there was a big opportunity for KISS to make their mark as a top team in the league, this was it.

"We’re frustrated. We feel like we’re better than 2-2 right now. We feel like we should be 3-1, if not 4-0 right now," said KISS head coach Bob McMillen.

This is not your average professional expansion team. Then again, it’s KISS, so anything is possible.

KISS are expected to win. And win now.

The KISS dropped to .500 with Saturday’s loss. Is it time to panic?

"It’s certainly panic but there are certain things not as far as long as we want them to be.

LA KISS vs. Cleveland Gladiators

"We’re going to have to work that much harder. There are teams that have been together for a few years now. It’s only Game 4 for us," quarterback J.J. Raterink said.

The game featured nine lead changes and there’s one possession that proved to be the turning point for the KISS.

Down by only three and a chance to regain the lead, the KISS found themselves on Cleveland’s 1-yard line on second down. The result: three run plays for no gain and a turnover on downs.

"We ran the ball on (Gladiators) all day and we thought we could punch it in and we didn’t," McMillen said, "We didn’t get the push we wanted."

It was a game KISS should’ve won, considering they only allowed 40 points. In the AFL, that’s good defense.

They lost their starting JACK linebacker Dexter McCoil early in the contest after he was disqualified for throwing a closed-fist punch. Still, KISS adjusted and kept Cleveland at bay.

Offensively, Raterink and the KISS offense could not find a rhythm. They scored a season-low 30 points after averaging 51.3 in the first three games.

McMillen said the opener was behind them and assured there were no distractions regarding the entertainment surrounding the team.

The concerts and pyrotechnics will get old and with the high standards set for KISS, so will losing.