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Predators close out regular season with 59-40 victory over Storm

Saturday August 8, 2015

ORLANDO – August 8, 2015 – The Orlando Predators are rolling into the playoffs.

 

Orlando (12-6) cruised to a 59-40 victory over the rival Tampa Bay Storm (7-11) Saturday night at Amway Center.  The Predators completed the season sweep over the Storm, recording their third War On I-4 victory this season.

 

Wide receiver Larry Brackins scored four touchdowns – three receiving and one rushing – to lead the Predators. Wide receiver Greg Carr added 10 receptions for 109 yards and two scores. Quarterback Randy Hippeard was 23-of-30 through the air for 255 yards and six scores. Meanwhile, the Orlando defense recorded four stops en route to a fifth straight victory.

 

“We had to fight. We had to play really hard,” head coach Rob Keefe said immediately following the game. “The whole thing was we went into it talking about finishing. I was glad the guys finished. We proved a point by finishing with 12 wins this season. We wanted to have a win streak of five, instead of a losing streak of one, going into the playoffs. So, this is a big win. Momentum is huge in professional sports.”

 

The Predators jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead. A pair of interceptions – by Emanuel Cook and Terence Moore – kept the Storm off the scoreboard in the first quarter.

 

Tampa Bay made a game of it in the second quarter. The Storm defense forced a field goal that gave Orlando a 24-14 lead. After a Tampa Bay touchdown made it 24-21, an Orlando fumble gave Tampa Bay the ball back at the Predators’ 10-yard line. A Jason Boltus touchdown pass to Julius Gregory capped the Storm rally.

 

Tampa Bay took the lead briefly at 27-24.

 

But Arness Ikner and Austin Brown stopped the bleeding on the PAT attempt and put momentum back on the Predators’ sideline. Jeremy Geathers blocked the PAT and Brown rumbled to the end zone for a defensive PAT to make it 27-26. Three plays later, order was restored when Greg Carr hauled in his second touchdown pass of the first half to put the Predators on top 32-27.

 

The Predators would not trail again.

 

Newly-minted Orlando Predators record-holder Brandon Thompkins returned the third quarter kickoff 52 yards, adding to his single-season record for kickoff return yardage. One play later, Michael Simons hit paydirt from three yards out and Orlando was back up by two scores, 39-27.

 

The Predators got a key stop late in the third-quarter, as Ikner broke up a pass in the end zone on 4th-and-10 from the Orlando 11-yard line, preserving a 45-34 Predators lead. Meanwhile, Hippeard converted two fourth downs on the ensuing possession, including Brackins’ third touchdown of the game. Greg Carr, who caught 10 passes for 109 yards in the game, hauled in the two-point conversion and Orlando was on top 53-34 early in the fourth quarter.

 

The two teams traded a pair of scores midway through the fourth quarter. Brackins scored his rushing touchdown with 7:28remaining in the game to maintain a three-score advantage for the Predators and the defense salted it away from there. Cook paced the Orlando defense with 12 tackles and an interception. Meanwhile, Jeremy Geathers tallied 1.5 sacks for the Predators, as well.

 

Orlando will host an American Conference playoff matchup against the Jacksonville Sharks Saturday (August 15) at Amway Center. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

 

Orlando will host the Jacksonville Sharks in the first round of the 2015 AFL playoffs on Saturday, August 15 at 7:30 p.m.Tickets start at $16 and are available at www.OrlandoPredators.com or by calling 407.355.2200.

 

NOTES

·         Thompkins set a Predators single-season record with 1,854 kickoff return yards. The previous record was 1,795 set by Dominic Jones in 2013.

·         A crowd of 15,188 was in attendance to see the Predators defeat the Storm. It was the best Orlando crowd of the season and the third best in the AFL this season.

·         Brackins’ fourth-quarter TD run was the league-leading 39th rushing touchdown for Orlando. Michael Simons also scored on the ground for the Predators in the contest.

 

RUSSELL ATHLETIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME

Orlando WR Larry Brackins

 

RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME

Orlando DB Emanuel Cook

 

J.LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME

Orlando WR Brandon Thompkins

 

CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME

35-yard touchdown reception by Orlando WR Greg Carr (Q2 | 11:57)

 

AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME

Blocked PAT returned for score by Orlando DL Austin Brown (Q2 | 1:00)

 

ABOUT THE ORLANDO PREDATORS

The 2015 South Division Champion Orlando Predators are in their 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.