Predators Sink Division-Rival Jacksonville Sharks, 55-54
Saturday April 4, 2015
Orlando Sets AFL Record with Seven Rushing Touchdowns
JACKSONVILLE – April 3, 2015 – The Orlando Predators (1-1) emerged with a 55-54 victory on the road in a back-and-forth battle with the Jacksonville Sharks (0-2) on Friday evening. Despite a myriad of injuries that saw serval Predators players play out of position, Orlando earned its first win of the season to advance to first place in the South Division.
Despite not throwing a pass in the game, quarterback Bernard Morris saw significant action near the goal line as he rushed for 13 yards and four touchdowns on the night. Fullback Michael Simons put his power on display as he gained 23 yards and two scores on six carries. Quarterback Randy Hippeard added another score on a one-yard run and Orlando set a new Arena Football League single-game record with seven rushing touchdowns.
Orlando jumped out to a seven-point lead after receiving the opening kickoff as Hippeard scored on a one-yard run to cap a six-play, 35-yard drive. Jacksonville tied the game a series later off a 16-yard pass from quarterback Tommy Grady to wide receiver Joe Hills. Orlando regained the lead off a five-yard touchdown run by Bernard Morris before the Sharks evened the score as Grady completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to WR Tiger Jones.
Three plays into the ensuing possession, Hippeard dropped back and launched a 38-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Brandon Thompkins. Jacksonville scored quick off a 10-yard pass from Grady to Jones after recovering Orlando’s onside kick attempt, but the Predators maintained a 21-20 lead following a missed PAT attempt.
Orlando proceeded to add to its lead, executing a 10-play, 47-yard series that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Morris to give the Predators a 28-20 advantage with under a minute remaining in the half. Jacksonville began its next drive with a short field after recovery Orlando’s onside kick attempt and Grady connected with Jones for a 10-yard score that took only 10 seconds off the clock. The Predators quickly matched the score on the next play from scrimmage, as Bernard Morris rushed for a one-yard touchdown after an onside kick by the Sharks. Jacksonville managed to find the end zone a series later as Ross rushed for a one-yard score to end the first half tied, 35-35.
Jacksonville received the ball at the start of the second half and took advantage of a depleted Predators secondary that saw Bernard Morris subbing in at cornerback as Grady tossed a 30-yard touchdown to Jones. The Predators regained possession and drove the length of the field, completing a 49-yard drive that ended in a four-yard touchdown run by Morris. Orlando’s defense tightened up a series later, denying the Sharks on three straight pass attempts to force fourth down. Jacksonville elected to attempt a field goal, but defensive end Jeremy Geathers broke through the line and blocked the attempt, giving Orlando the ball at the opponent’s 12-yard line. Two plays later, Michael Simons rumbled into the end zone from six yards out to give the Predators a 48-40 lead heading into the final quarter.
Jacksonville managed to tie game midway through the final period after FB Derrick Ross rushed for a three-yard score and converted the two-point try with another carry. However, the Predators needed only three plays to take their final lead of the night. On the second play of the series, Hippeard tossed a deep pass to WR Greg Carr, who fought off a defender to secure the 39-yard reception. One play later, FB Michael Simons punched the ball over the goal line for a two-yard score to give Orlando the 55-48 lead.
The Sharks found the end zone on their final drive as Grady completed a 14-yard scoring pass to Jones. Holding onto a one-point lead, rookie nose guard Austin Brown fired through opposing blockers and batted down Jacksonville’s PAT attempt. Orlando regained possession for the final time on the night and ran out the clock to seal the 55-54 victory.
The Orlando Predators travel in Week 3 to take on the New Orleans VooDoo (1-0) on Saturday, April 11 at 8:00 p.m. EST. For all the latest news and updates, visit orlandopredators.com and follow the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jacksonville WR Tiger Jones
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Orlando DB O’Hara Fluellen
J.LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME
Orlando QB Bernard Morris
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME
30-yard touchdown reception by WR Tiger Jones (13:12 | Q3)
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Two-yard game-winning touchdown run by FB Michael Simons (7:19 | Q4)
ABOUT THE ORLANDO PREDATORS
The 2014 South Division Champion Orlando Predators enters its 24th season as Central Florida’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 22 times in their history while securing seven conference championships, including two ArenaBowl Championship victories in 1998 and 2000.