Predators conquer Cleveland Gladiators, 63-42
Friday May 29, 2015
Celebrating his 30th Birthday, QB Morris Leads Predators to Third-Straight Win
CLEVELAND, OH – May 29, 2015 – The Orlando Predators (6-4) won their third consecutive game Friday evening, defeating the Cleveland Gladiators (5-5) on the road by a final score of 63-42. Orlando put together one of its most complete performances of the season to date, leading by at least two scores from late in the second quarter until the final whistle.
On the day of his 30th birthday, quarterback Bernard Morris directed an offensive unit that found the end zone on eight of its nine possessions. The veteran signal caller completed 16-of-23 pass attempts for 191 yards and four touchdowns, hooking up with wide receiver Kendal Thompkins five times for a team-high 81 yards and two scores.
The Predators offense also scored five touchdowns on the ground with a rushing attack that was led by fullback Michael Simons, who posted 24 yards and four touchdowns on six carries. Wide receiver Larry Brackins also chipped in a three-yard touchdown run to go along with five receptions for 63 yards.
Not to be outdone, Orlando’s defense registered three turnovers on the night while holding its opponent to a season-low 42 points. Defensive back Emanuel Cook logged 9.5 total tackles while adding two pass breakups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Defensive end Meshak Williams contributed 2.0 tackles with one interception, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry. Linebacker Terence Moore also made his presence felt, turning in a 6.0 tackle performance that included a forced fumble and an interception.
Orlando opened the game with a methodical seven-play, 43-yard drive that ended in a seven-yard touchdown strike over the middle from Bernard Morris to wide receiver LaMark Brown. Cleveland would move the ball into the red zone on its first possession before being denied by the Predators defense. Seven plays into the drive, Terence Moore came up with a big hit on wide receiver Collin Taylor, jarring the ball loose as Emanuel Cook recovered the fumble for the Predators. Orlando would convert the turnover into points as Michael Simons took a handoff and scampered untouched 12 yards up the right sideline for the score to give Orlando a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Cleveland got its first score of the night midway through the second quarter, as quarterback Shane Austin connected with wide receiver Dominick Goodman from six yards out. The Predators quickly pushed the lead back to two scores with an efficient four-play, 40-yard drive. Facing 2nd-&-Goal, Morris pitched the ball outside to Brandon Thompkins, who dove over the goal line for the quick score. The Gladiators would find the end zone with just under a minute remaining in the half off a one-yard quarterback sneak by Shane Austin.
Orlando made quick work of a short field after recovering an onside kick attempt by the Gladiators at the eight-yard line. On the second play of the series, Larry Brackins took a handoff and plowed through would-be tacklers on his way to a three-yard touchdown run. Three plays into the ensuing Cleveland drive, Terence Moore picked off a pass attempt by Shane Austin and Bernard Morris needed just one play to score as he launched a deep 44-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to Kendal Thompkins. The touchdown pass gave Orlando a 35-14 lead at the midway point.
Cleveland opened a low-scoring third quarter with its third touchdown of the night off a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Phillip-Keith Manley. Orlando answered with a five-play, 36-yard drive that was capped off with a one-yard touchdown plunge by Michael Simons.
The Gladiators got on the board again moments into the fourth quarter, as Shane Austin completed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Collin Taylor. Cleveland attempted an onside kick following the score, but Larry Brackins recovered for Orlando. Brackins advanced the kick near the goal line to set up another one-yard touchdown run by Michael Simons, giving the Predators a 49-28 lead.
Cleveland regained possession and found the end zone off an 11-yard pass from Shane Austin to wide receiver Andy Cruse. Michael Simons responded for the Predators on the ensuing series, turning in his fourth rushing touchdown of the night from a yard out for a 56-35 lead.
Orlando’s defense forced its third turnover of the game on the next Cleveland possession, as Meshak Williams batted a pass attempt at the line of scrimmage before coming down with the interception. However, the Predators were unable to capitalize on the turnover as Mark Lewis had his field goal attempt blocked on the resulting drive. The Gladiators would then make it a two-score game following a 22-yard touchdown pass from Shane Austin to wide receiver Dominick Goodman.
The Predators got the last score of the night a drive later, as Morris dropped back and lofted a 14-yard touchdown pass over the top of the defense to Kendal Thompkins to bring the game to its final score of 63-42.
The Orlando Predators travel to take on the division-rival Jacksonville Sharks in Week 11. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, June 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
Orlando Fullback Michael Simons
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Orlando Defensive Back Emanuel Cook
J.LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME
Orlando Quarterback Bernard Morris
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME
11-yard touchdown reception by Cleveland wide receiver Andy Cruse (Q4 | 10:45)
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
12-yard touchdown run by Orlando fullback Michael Simons (Q1 | 1:02)
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.