SAN JOSE -- Fred Williams was nearly caught from behind the first time that he ran a kickoff back for a touchdown Saturday night. Given a second opportunity, he went untouched.

Williams ran back two kickoffs for scores, Jason Willis and Jamark Simmons each scored three times, and the SaberCats beat the Cleveland Gladiators 56-36 in front of a crowd of 8,563 at HP Pavilion.

Russ Michna threw for 197 yards and four TDs on 18-of-25 passing as the left-handed quarterback was a success in his first home game with the SaberCats, who won their second straight.

San Jose's next game, with Tampa Bay, was changed to Friday at 7:30 p.m. to accommodate a possible San Jose Sharks-Vancouver Canucks NHL playoff game next Saturday.

Williams' first return came in response to Cleveland's first touchdown. He burst through a hole and followed Huey Whittaker along the left board. Whittaker got in the way of a defender just enough for Williams to flip acrobatically, into the end zone.

"I had to get it and go," Williams said. "I try to set my blockers up, and the hole was there. I just ran for my life."

San Jose (4-2) didn't commit a turnover for the first time all season.

"That's the whole game," Michna said. "We played much cleaner this week."

San Jose took a 14-0 lead after one quarter and opened a 35-15 advantage by halftime.

The Gladiators (1-5) pulled to within 35-29 late in the third quarter on Lenny Wicks' 2-yard net recovery, but San Jose responded with a 47-yard drive, ending on an 18-yard scoring toss to Willis from Michna.


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Terrance Carter and Jason Stewart each recorded a sack, Clevan Thomas knock down two passes at the goal line, and Stewart had an interception when Justin Warren tipped a Brian Zbydniewski pass.

Willis caught eight passes for 85 yards and continues to lead the SaberCats with 50 catches.

Simmons broke a tie with Whittaker for the team lead in scoring. Simmons has 78 points, while Whittaker, who did not score for the first time this season, remained at 60.

  • The SaberCats officially retired Mark Grieb's No. 16 during a halftime ceremony. White '16' jerseys were handed out to fans, and the Mt. Pleasant High School band, which performed the national anthem, wore their jerseys on the field.

    Grieb, the head coach at Menlo College, becomes the third SaberCats player to have their number retired, joining Sam Hernandez '55' and Barry Wagner '2.'

  • Earlier last week, the SaberCats acquired receiver Amarri Jackson from Orlando for quarterback Aaron Garcia and offensive lineman Devin Clark. They were also assigned receiver Armand Robinson and sent receiver Samora Goodson to New Orleans for future considerations.

    FRIDAY'S GAME

    Tampa Bay (5-2) at SaberCats (4-2), 7:30 p.m. No TV