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Thunder lose Thomas to injury, fall to Predators 69-43

Sunday May 24, 2015

 ORLANDO – Thunder WR/KR Duane Brooks hauled in seven passes for 101 yards and two scores, but that was not enough to keep Portland (3-5, 1-1) from suffering their fourth road loss, falling to the Orlando Predators (5-4) 69-43 Saturday night in front of 10,583 at the Amway Center.

“We lost our self-composure. The turnovers, the penalties, these are things this team did last year. We have got to regain our composure and understand that we are going to be successful as a team,” head coach Mike Hohensee explained after the game.

The Thunder were assessed nine penalties, for 54 yards.

“Those things aren’t going to help us win any football games. We had plenty of guys play their hearts outs, that played hard until the end,” Hohensee added. “…But a few didn’t play hard enough, or smart enough for us to win a football game against a decent football team on the road.”

Brooks added 130 kick return yards to his first 100-plus yard receiving game of the season with the combined total giving the veteran a team high 231 all-purpose yards. The night also marked his fourth 100-plus return game this term.

Orlando WR Brandon Thompkins led all receivers with 107 yards from 7 catches for three scores.

The Thunder were without recently promoted QB Darron Thomas for the majority of the evening following what looked to be an innocuous 2 yard rush during Portland’s second possession in the second quarter. Hit high into the boards while pivoting on his left leg by Orlando’s Emmanuel Cook and Calvin Fance, the former Oregon Duck came up limp and could not continue. Thomas had already completed 14 of his 20 passes, for 107 yards and three scores before exiting around the 5:00 mark of the second.

The Thunder opened the scoring with a steady five-play, 47 yard drive that ended with Thomas hitting WR Jared Perry in the center of the end zone. The ensuing kickoff began a back and forth affair over the next quarter and a half, with Predators WR/KR Brandon Thompkins returning K Kevin Goessling’s offering 58 yards for a touchdown, providing an immediate response.
On the Thunder’s next possession, which began at the Orlando 21 following a 35 yard return by Brooks, Thomas was sacked, with Predators DL Jeremy Geathers collecting a fumble and returning for a score.

The Thunder did not get down on themselves following that two touchdown swing, instead responding with yet another smooth, seven-play, 42 yard drive that saw Thomas connect with a wide open V’Keon Lacey to bring the score to 14-12.

The Predators answered back with a quick, two-play TD drive of their own, to extend their lead to nine at 21-12. The Thunder offense again showed poise under Thomas’ leadership, sticking through the momentum swings while scoring off of a lengthy 11-play drive, this time culminating in a seven yard screen pass to 6’7”, 350 lb. OL Jerrail McCuller, who caught Thomas’s offering with one hand.

Following Thomas’ departure, the Predators began to take control. Orlando, moments after scoring to extend their lead to nine again, at 28-19, attempted and recovered an onside kick, with Orlando’s Calvin Fance advancing the ball to the Portland 11 yard line. Orlando QB Bernard Morris scored on a keeper three plays later, giving the Predators a two-score lead.

Thunder backup QB Kyle Rowley reduced the Thunder’s deficit to 10 at that point, connecting with Lacey for a 10 yard touchdown after Bryce Peila recovered Orlando’s onside attempt that followed Morris’ TD run, but the Portland could not take advantage of that position.

Rowley ended the game completing 16 of his 20 passes in relief of Thomas, for 176 yards and two touchdowns.

The Thunder return to the Moda Center next Saturday afternoon to take on the undefeated San Jose Sabercats. Kickoff is set for 3:00PM.

Post Game Awards:
Offensive Player- Orlando WR Brandon Thompkins
Defensive Player- Orlando DL Jeremy Geathers
Playmaker of the Game- Orlando WR Brandon Thompkins
Catch of the Game- 28-yard TD reception by Orlando WR Julian Williams (Q2 | 0:10)
AFL Highlight of the Game- Strip-sack fumble recovered for a touchdown by Orlando DL Jeremy Geathers (Q1 | 10:10)

About the Portland Thunder
The Portland Thunder are back with a BOOM this 2015 AFL Season. Tickets and sponsorships are now available. For more information, email us at info@portlandthunder.com or call 503-773-4235. For all the latest news and discussion on the Portland Thunder, follow the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@pdxthunder).