PREDS Pull Past Sharks 52-41
Orlando, FLA -- The Orlando Predators (2-3) defeated the 2019 NAL Defending Champion Jacksonville Sharks (1-3), 52-41 on Friday, July 2nd at 7:30 PM at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL.
The game served as a rematch between two in-state rivals, with Orlando emerging victorious in the first meeting at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL, 52-41, securing their first victory of the season.
Both teams headed into the matchup with only one win under their belts.
At the top of the first quarter, Orlando was able to strike first as newly acquired quarterback Patrick O’Brien found Donavan Rasberry for the first score of the night.
Jacksonville responded with a quick score before wide receiver DJ Myers helped the Preds regain the lead, scoring his first of his three first half touchdowns. Myers averaged 11.9 yards per reception on his eight total receptions, leading the team in all receiving statistical categories except for catches.
Pass catcher Prince Shonola used his shiftiness to his advantage and nearly broke a kickoff return of a touchdown in the first half. Shonola also led the team with nine total receptions.
In between Myers scores, the Predators defense surrendered two more touchdowns prior to the half, but not after making some plays their own. Chris Page, a new defensive back signee, was able to register his first career interception as an Orlando Predator midway through the second quarter. Page also added two additional pass break up's and three tackles to his resume in his performance against the Sharks.
On back to back plays, the Black and Red were able to record consecutive sacks against the Sharks, forcing them to turn the football over in prime Predator position. Defensive lineman Freddie Booth-Loyd and Ellis Smith brought the pressure on the tackles for loss.
The Sharks came out sharp after the half scoring a 19-yard touchdown, but the PAT was blocked by the Preds, leaving Orlando with a 28-27 lead.
On the ensuing offensive possession for Orlando, a Sharks defender intercepted a pass intended for Myers and came away with the takeaway. The series of events ended in a missed field goal by Jacksonville, leaving Orlando still up by one point.
The Predators escaped a wall-to-wall pick six play by the Sharks after Jacksonville committed a pass interference penalty prior to the pick, wiping out the return touchdown.
A 28-yard rushing touchdown by Desmond Maxwell put the Preds up 41,34 with eight minutes remaining in the final period of play. Maxwell's 56 rushing yards accounted for the most by a Preds player this season.
On the very next drive, defensive back Josh Jenkins made his presence felt by jumping in front of a Jacksonville pass in the end-zone, resulting in his fourth interception of the season.
A second rushing touchdown by O’Brien helped seal the deal for the Orlando Predators with 2:06 left to play. The Preds were able to dawn a deuce in the ensuing kickoff, extending their lead 49,34.
O'Brien capped off his first start with the Preds throwing for 181 yards and four touchdowns alongside two interceptions filling in for the injured Bryan Hicks.
After a last minute touchdown by the Sharks, and another Orlando score, the Predators were able to overcome the 2019 NAL Defending Champs by a score of 52-41, completing the season sweep over their in-state rivals.
Next week, the Orlando Predators will return home to the Amway Center on Saturday, July 10th for a 7 PM showdown versus the New Jersey Flight.
About the Orlando Predators:
The Orlando Predators are a professional Arena Football team based in Orlando, Florida and a member of the National Arena League (NAL). The team was founded in 1991 as an expansion team of the Arena Football League (AFL). The team advanced to the playoffs 19 consecutive seasons between 1992 and 2011, becoming the Arena Bowl champions in 1998 and 2000 during that span. The team plays their home games at the Amway Center in beautiful Downtown Orlando, FL. For more information about the Orlando Predators visit www.orlandopredatorsfootball.com.