Preds Force Their Way Into Win Column
ORLANDO – Every now and again, you remember a quote that you heard a long time ago that sticks in the old memory bank. After watching the Orlando Predators take down the Georgia Force 27-24 on Friday night, a quote from the legendary Head Coach Tim Marcum comes to mind. "She wasn't pretty, but we danced with her anyway."
At this point, the 11,581 fans in attendance at the Amway Center really didn't care how the Preds won. All that was important was getting that elusive first win of the season. In what was the fourth lowest scoring game in the AFL since 2000 and the lowest scoring game of the season, Orlando was able to get out of Dodge with a 'W'.
There are going to be a ton of skeptics over the play of QB Justin Roper in this one. He only went 16-of-34 for 173 yards with two touchdowns against two INTs. He also rushed for 28 yards and a score. We do have to remember that this was just the second professional game of Roper's career at any level, so nerves were surely involved. However, with the way that he was overthrowing receivers and running like heck out of the pocket when things broke down, even new Offensive Coordinator Ben Bennett couldn't stop from showing his frustration towards the end of the game.
And it is true that Roper has put up absolutely atrocious numbers over the course of the last six quarters of football (plus overtime), completing just 42.6 percent of his passes for an average of 4.4 yards per pass with three scores against five picks. The team also only has three touchdown drives in that stretch in a total of 18 possessions. That just isn't going to cut it to say the least.
But that being said, this isn't a day to be down on the offense no matter how bad it was. Head Coach Brett Munsey has to be thrilled with his defense, which allowed just three touchdowns in the victory and consistently came up with big play after big play when the offense left it in vulnerable positions. In fact, Orlando didn't trail the entire game, an amazing achievement when the 'O' was just so bad.
It was also a day where the newcomers really shined for a team that really revamped its look after falling to 0-5 last week. DB Justin Hannah led the team with 10 total tackles, while DL Shawn Lemon had a sack and two tackles to go with countless pressures on the quarterback that you won't find on the stat sheet.
In defeat, QB RJ Archer went 30-of-50 for 276 yards with three TDs and no picks. In the end, the Force ran 56 offensive plays and had just 280 yards, an average of exactly 5.0 yards per play. To put that in comparison, the Force had averaged 8.8 yards per play in their first five games of the year.
The truth of the matter is that this unit really has played well all year along. The Preds are now allowing just 43.3 points per game, but more impressive is that yards per play number that we were just talking about. Orlando is conceding only 6.0 yards per play this year, ranking No. 2 in the league (with the stats from Week 7 pending).
It's great for the Preds to be back in the win column, and especially with the Tampa Bay Storm getting blown away on Friday night, they are just two-games behind the lead in the lowly Southern Division, where no team is above .500. The bad news though, is the schedule ahead. This Georgia team has shown some flashes this year, but it is nowhere near as difficult of a team to take down as the upcoming games. Orlando hosts the Philadelphia Soul next Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. (ET) right here at the Amway Center. After that, four of the next five are on the road, and the only game in which the team will be favored will be against the Jacksonville Sharks on May 25th.
But at least for this night, the Predators can rest easily that their six-game losing streak dating back to last year, the longest in team history is over. It wasn't picturesque, but it was pretty enough to get the job done, and at this point and in this division, any win is as pretty as pie.