The Orlando Predators lead most of the way and held on late for a 27-24 win at the Amway vs the Georgia Force. The win ended a 5 game losing streak for the O-town squad.
Both offences really struggled to move the ball most of the game. It was really a battle for field position as mostly short 7-12 yard passes were the norm here. Errant tosses down field and some dropped balls contributed to the lower than normal arena league score. The Orlando defense played well, swatting some passes down late in the game.
The Preds had a 24-14 lead late in the 3rd quarter, but Georgia nipped away and caused the 11,000 plus fans in attendance to hold their collective breath to the very last second. Kicker Mark Lewis knocked a 35 yard field goal through the uprights with only 38 ticks left on the clock, but that left the door open just wide enough for a Georgia comeback. A kick off return and few quick, short passes later, the visiting Force had a 37 yard attempt with 6 seconds on the clock to force overtime. The kick sailed wide right, and the home crowed erupted. The emotion on the Preds sideline was visible, as they celebrated the first W of 2012.
“We’ve been in every game so far this season and tonight we found a way to finish and get the win,” Preds coach Bret Munsey said. ”We’ve got as good a group of players as anybody in the league, and we’ve just got to believe in ourselves and stay positive.”
Of course, the beautiful and talented Predators dance team was on hand to entertain. And no trip to an arena football game is complete without an inane halftime show. As always, Drunky the Bear, a mascot from local radio station 104.1, took to the field with his crazy antics. This time around, Drunky played tug of war with 5 little bears , halftime always entertains the arena league crowd.
With only 11,000, the arena was unfortunately very empty. Not the usual thundering excitement. Sure, the locals are more accustomed to the Predators being on the other end of the standings, so hopefully this win injects some enthusiasm and the crowds return.
As always, downtown Orlando is bustling with sports fans club goers alike on a night like this. The good thing is close parking is plentiful and the atmosphere is not intimidating. They even seem to have the walkways even more lit up than I remember and Orlando Police are practically within sight your entire walk around the streets from garage to arena.
The Preds return to Amway next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against the Philadelphia Soul.