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Orlando falls to Cleveland in overtime, 56-55

Saturday May 2, 2015

 Preds Drop Second Consecutive Overtime Thiller by One Point

ORLANDO – May 2, 2015 – The Orlando Predators (3-3) fell to the Cleveland Gladiators (4-2) by a final score of 56-55 in front of a crowd of 9,212 at the Amway Center on Saturday evening. For the second time in as many weeks, the Predators dropped a one-point decision in an overtime matchup that came down to the game’s final play.

After ending regulation in a 49-49 draw, Orlando won the coin toss and elected to kick to start the overtime period. Cleveland opened with possession and managed to convert its drive into a score, as QB Shane Austin connected with WR Dominick Goodman on a six-yard touchdown pass.

Orlando regained possession and needed just one play to find the end zone. Follow a 36-yard kickoff return by Brandon Thompkins that put the Preds past midfield, QB Randy Hippeard dropped back and lofted a 20-yard touchdown pass to WR Kendal Thompkins to cut Cleveland’s lead, 56-55. Rather than kick a PAT and give the ball back to Cleveland with the game in sudden death, Head Coach Rob Keefe elected to go for two looking to secure a walk-off victory. However, Hippeard was unable to connect with WR Brandon Thompkins on the attempt, as his pass sailed out of bounds to end the game.

Hippeard finished the night completing 27-of-36 pass attempts for 350 yards and seven touchdowns, hooking up with Kendal Thompkins 10 times for 145 yards and two scores. WR Larry Brackins scored three times as he posted six catches for 47 yards. Making his AFL debut just days after inking his contract, rookie defensive back Emanuel Cook paced all defenders with 11.0 total tackles while adding his first interception.

Cleveland opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 19-yard touchdown reception by WR Amarri Jackson. Orlando promptly tied it on its opening series, as Hippeard found rookie WR LaMark Brown on a four-yard slant for a score.

The Gladiators went ahead as QB Shane Austin connected with WR Collin Taylor on a 15-yard touchdown pass, but a missed PAT allowed the Preds to take a 14-13 lead early in the second quarter off a four-yard touchdown grab by Larry Brackins.

Dominick Goodwin caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Shane Austin to give Cleveland a six-point advantage, but Orlando responded as Kendal Thompkins hauled in a short pass and sprinted up the left sideline for a 17-yard score.

Cleveland managed to score quickly with a one-play drive a series later, as Austin completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Collin Taylor. Facing fourth-and-goal on the ensuing possession with seconds remaining in the half, offensive coordinator Siaha Burley reached deep into his playbook to capitalize on an eager Gladiators defense. Lining up in the shotgun, QB Bernard Morris took the snap and faked the run before lofting a one-yard pass over the top of the defense to LB Terence Moore, who secured the reception for the touchdown.

Cleveland regained possession and set out on its next drive with 41 seconds remaining in the half, but Emanuel Cook promptly halted the drive with a leaping interception to secure a 28-27 advantage for the Predators at the midway point.

Orlando received to start the third quarter and successfully executed a three-play, 24-yard drive that ended in a four-yard touchdown reception by WR Brandon Thompkins. The Gladiators then found the end zone off an 18-yard pass from Austin to Goodman, but the Predators answered as Hippeard fired a three-yard touchdown pass to Larry Brackins for a 42-34 lead.

It appeared as if Orlando’s defense would secure its second turnover of the night a series later, as LB Terence Moore tipped a pass attempt by Austin. However, the loose ball bounced out of the grasp of a Preds defensive back and into the arms of Amarri Jackson, who ran 30 yards for a Cleveland score. Hippeard respond with a four-play, 35-yard drive, capping it off with a six-yard touchdown pass to Brackins that gave the Predators a 49-41 lead at the one minute warning.

The Gladiators managed to score with just two seconds remaining on the clock as Austin tossed an 11-yard score to Collin Taylor. Austin connected with Amarri Jackson on the two-point conversation attempt to tie the game at the end of regulation before continuing into overtime, where the game would eventually be decided by a single point.

The Orlando Predators travel in Week 7 to take on the Philadelphia Soul on Friday, May 8 at 7:30p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast live exclusively on WKMG Local 6. 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

Cleveland QB Shane Austin

RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME

Orlando DB Emanuel Cook

J.LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME

Orlando WR Larry Brackins

CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME

Touchdown Reception by Orlando LB Terence Moore (0:41 | Q2)

AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME

Interception by Orlando DB Emanuel Cook (0:12 | Q2)

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.