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Predators Fall to Iowa Despite Late Rally, 58-48

Sunday June 1, 2014

 DES MOINES, IA – The Orlando Predators (6-5) dropped a 58-48 decision to the Iowa Barnstormers (6-5) on the road in front of a crowd of 7,442 on Saturday evening. Orlando rallied in the fourth quarter to make it a one possession game, but the comeback attempt fell short as early turnovers and miscues proved too much to overcome.

Quarterback Jason Boltus returned to the lineup after missing two games with injury, but the offense struggled to get back into rhythm. Iowa opened the game’s scoring with a 20-yard touchdown run by FB Derik Steiner. The score was quickly tied at the end of the first as Boltus connected with WR Khalil Paden on a 13-yard touchdown pass.

The second quarter proved to be tumultuous for the Predators, as the offense turned the ball over three times in the period. Orlando found the end zone once in the quarter after a long kickoff return by DB Tanner Varner set up a one-yard touchdown run by FB Michael Simons. However, Iowa managed to build a 27-14 lead at the midway point off of three touchdown receptions by WR Darius Reynolds.

Iowa received the ball to open the third quarter, but was quickly denied by Orlando’s defense. Facing 3rd-&-10, Barnstormers QB Brian Reader lofted a pass to the end zone before Tanner Varner made a spectacular interception that sent him flying backwards over the dasher board walls. Orlando converted the turnover into points, as Boltus fired a deep 45-yard touchdown pass to WR Khalil Paden to decrease the deficit, 27-21.

The Barnstormers regained possession and increased their lead off of two unanswered scores, as Reader found Reynolds and WR Marco Thomas for touchdown completions to put the Predators in a 41-21 hole at the close of the third quarter.

QB Bernard Morris entered the game at the start of the final stanza and proceeded to direct the Predators on four-yard, 34-yard drive that was capped off with a three-yard touchdown pass to WR Larry Brackins. Reader hooked up with WR Dejay Lester on a nine-yard scoring completion during the ensuing series, but the Predators quickly responded as Morris tossed a 16-yard touchdown to WR Greg Carr to inch closer to the lead, 48-34.

With perfect execution, Predators K Mark Lewis successful booted an onside kick and Orlando recovered to maintain possession midway through the fourth. Four plays later, Morris again hooked up with Brackins – this time from nine yards out – to make it a one-score game with 4:25 remaining on the clock.

After recovering Orlando’s second onside kick attempt, the Barnstormers quickly found the end zone as Thomas caught a four-yard touchdown. Needing a quick answer, Morris fired a 20-yard pass to WR Larry Brackins, who outmuscled a defender in the end zone to come up with the score for the Predators.

Trailing 55-48 with 36 seconds remaining in the game, Orlando attempted another onside kick, but Iowa managed to recover. The Predators would stop the Barnstormers on three consecutive runs, but K Ross Gornall successfully converted on a 22-yard field goal attempt on fourth down to seal the contest, 58-48.

Despite the loss, Orlando remains in first place in the South Division of the American Conference.

The Orlando Predators travel to Texas in Week 13 to take on the San Antonio Talons on Saturday, June 7th. Kickoff from the Alamodome is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. EST.

The Orlando Predators are heading into their 23rd season as Orlando’s most exciting and innovative professional sports franchise. Proud members of the Arena Football League, the Predators have achieved unprecedented success on the field. Orlando has advanced to the AFL playoffs a league-leading 19 times in their history while securing seven conference championships, including two ArenaBowl Championship victories in 1998 and 2000.