Preds Look to Rebound from Desert Disaster
The infamous Arena Football League drinking game will be in full swing on Saturday night at the Amway Center when Ron Jaworski’s Philadelphia Soul pays a visit to the Orlando Predators in a much anticipated match-up of two American Conference favorites.
Orlando is coming off a disappointing collapse in a 48-47 loss to the Arizona Rattlers in the Snake Pit last Saturday. Up 47-40 facing third-and-goal at the Ratts five, Preds quarterback Nick Hill threw an interception that turned the tide in Arizona’s favor with 38 seconds left. Hill showed his first sign of struggles on the season as he and center Jamarr Ward failed to connect on five center/QB exchanges.
Despite that, the Predators dominated the contest from the opening kickoff taking a 21-0 advantage into the second quarter after linebacker Marlon Moye-Moore intercepted a Nick Davila pass and returned it for a touchdown.
The lead quickly wilted away as the Preds defense could not find a way to contain Rattlers wide receiver Trandon Harvey who had a field day. Harvey finished with nine receptions for 117 yards and four touchdowns—he also added the game-winning two-point conversion on a pass from Davila with eight-seconds left.
Preds head coach Pat O’Hara will certainly be looking to redeem himself after what can be called a suspect play-call in crunch time. A short Mark Lewis field-goal would have given the Preds a 50-40 lead if they had only held onto the football. I am sure it is a call O’Hara would like to have back and he may get his chance as I believe last Saturday’s game was a very possible ArenaBowl preview.
O’Hara and the Preds are not alone in feeling they let one get away from them in their last outing. Head coach Mike Hohensee’s Soul let a 25-point lead slip to the Milwaukee Mustangs on Monday night in front of nobody at the Bradley Center. Up 34-9 with 7:08 left in the second quarter, the Soul gave up a 42-15 run to finish the game in a 51-49 loss to a team that entered the contest with no wins.
At 1-2 on the season, Philly trails the surprising eastern division leading Cleveland Gladiators (3-0) by two games early on. The Predators enter this game at 2-1, just a half-game behind the Jacksonville Sharks (3-1) in the southern division.
While I did not make it out to practice this week, I can only guess Hill and Ward spent extra time getting their exchange under control coming into this big challenge against the visiting Soul. Look for the Predators to come out playing mistake-free offensive football in this game while featuring a dangerous core of veteran receivers in Bobby Sippio, T.T. Toliver, and Robert Quiroga.
I also expect to see the Predators play a better defensive game this week. The improvement will have to come in the tackling department where missed tackles and sacks led to a couple of the Rattlers scores. Soul QB Justin Allgood is more of a pocket-passer than Davila which should work to the Preds advantage in this one.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast locally on Brighthouse 47 and WMCN in Philadelphia beginning at 7:30pm from the New Jungle. With half the league on bye, this promises to be the real AFL Game of the Week minus the NFL Network.