Predators rally for 63-62 overtime victory over Tampa Bay Storm
Sunday May 17, 2015
Orlando Predators Topple Storm in 56th Edition of “War on I-4”
ORLANDO – May 16, 2015 – The Orlando Predators (4-4) rallied for a dramatic 63-62 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Storm (3-4) on Saturday night in the 56th edition of the “War on I-4.” Orlando was behind by as much as three scores during the game, but the Predators overcame a 21-point fourth quarter deficit to earn an improbable victory that vaulted the team back into first place in the South Division.
Trailing 55-40 with just over a minute remaining in the contest, Tampa Bay QB Jason Boltus was pressured into an errant throw at midfield that was intercepted by Predators LB Terence Moore, who rumbled 25 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown to decrease the deficit, 55-47.
Orlando’s defense returned to the field and once again denied the Storm, forcing a 20-yard field goal attempt that was missed by kicker Craig Peterson. The Predators regained possession and QB Bernard Morris promptly directed the offense into the red zone before finding WR Brandon Thompkins on a three-yard touchdown pass. Needing a two-point conversion to tie the game, WR Kendal Thompkins hauled in the pass from Morris in the back of the end zone to even the score at the end of regulation, 55-55.
Tampa Bay received possession to start the overtime period and captured a quick score off a 20-yard touchdown pass from QB Jason Boltus to WR T.T. Toliver. With both teams being guaranteed at least one possession, the Predators set out on their final drive of the night and methodically worked downfield on an eight-play, 48-yard series. Facing 1st-&-Goal just a yard shy of the end zone, QB Bernard Morris handed the ball off to FB Michael Simons, who plunged over the goal line for the score.
Rather than risk kicking a PAT that would give possession back to the Storm in a sudden death scenario, the Predators elected to go for two to seal the win. Morris dropped back on the two-point conversion attempt a fired a quick pass over the middle to Brandon Thompkins, who secured the reception to finalize the walk-off victory, 63-62.
Morris finished the night hitting on 24-of-43 pass attempts for 271 yards and six touchdowns while adding 86 yards rushing. Kendal Thompkins registered a game-high 14 receptions for 150 yards and three scores, while Brandon Thompkins turned in six catches for 88 yards and three touchdowns of his own. Michael Simons rushed twice for three yards and two scores on the ground.
Defensively, DL Meshak Williams posted 2.5 tackles, including a forced fumble on a seven-yard sack. LB Terence Moore and DB Nick Taylor each delivered interceptions, while DB Emanuel Cook led the team with 8.5 total tackles.
Morris converted a crucial fourth-down attempt during the game’s opening drive, completing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kendal Thompkins to give the Predators an early lead. Jason Boltus tied it moments later, connecting with WR Julius Gregory from six yards out on the next play from scrimmage.
Orlando was unable to capitalize on its next possession, turning the ball over on downs after eight plays. Boltus found T.T. Toliver on a nine-yard touchdown pass five plays into the ensuing drive, giving Tampa Bay a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Morris tied the game a series later off an 18-yard completion to Brandon Thompkins, but Tampa Bay managed to build a 27-14 lead, beginning with a 47-yard touchdown reception by WR Emory Sammons. Thompkins lined up to field the ensuing kickoff, but the ball bounced off the crossbars and into the arms of Storm DB James Harrell, who returned it 13 yards to the end zone for a score.
The Predators needed just two plays to score following the kickoff, as Morris rolled out to his right before throwing a 24-yard touchdown pass over the top of the defense to Kendal Thompkins. Tampa Bay answered with a 34-yard touchdown reception by WR Kendrick Ings, but Morris countered once again, launching a 28-yard touchdown to a wide-open Brandon Thompkins to make it a one-score game. The Storm would get the final score of the half off a nine-yard touchdown catch by T.T. Toliver to put the Predators in a 41-28 hole at the midway point.
The Storm opened the second half with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Boltus to WR Phillip Barnett to build a 48-28 lead. The Predators turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on fourth down a series later, but Orlando’s defense promptly answered the call as DB Nick Taylor intercepted a pass attempt by Boltus on third down. Four plays later, Michael Simons plowed over the goal line on a handoff for a two-yard touchdown run.
Tampa Bay pushed its lead to 55-34 off a 29-yard completion from Boltus to Toliver, but the Predators responded on the next play from scrimmage as Kendal Thompkins hauled in a 26-yard touchdown pass to start the 21-point fourth quarter comeback.
The Orlando Predators return to the Amway Center in Week 9 to battle the Portland Thunder on Saturday, May 23 at 7:00 p.m. EST. The rivalry game will be nationally televised on CBS Sports Network. Tickets are available for purchase by calling 407-355-2200 or online at OrlandoPredators.com. 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
Orlando Predators QB Bernard Morris
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tampa Bay Storm DB Rick-J Hill
J.LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME
Orlando Predators WR Kendal Thompkins
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME
47-yard touchdown reception by Tampa Bay Storm WR Emery Sammons
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
25-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Orlando Predators LB Terence Moore (1:01 | 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.