After a hard fought game by both teams, the Orlando Predators couldn’t hold onto their lead and lost their sixth game of the season Saturday night. The Predators fell to the American Conference leading Philadelphia Soul 69-53, in a shootout at the Amway Center, making them 1-6 for the season.
The first quarter started off with back to back turnovers by both teams. The Predators received the ball and marched down the field. Quarterback Justin Roper threw a pass in the end zone that was intercepted by former Orlando defensive back Rayshaun Kizer. On the Soul’s second play of their drive, quarterback Dan Raudabaugh threw an interception to Preds defensive back Travis Coleman. Orlando capitalized on the turnover with a touchdown pass from Roper to wide receiver Bobby Sippio. On the following kickoff, Predators wide receiver Jarvis Williams recovered an onside kick. Orlando took advantage of the onside kick, scoring on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Roper to wide receiver T.T. Toliver, giving the Predators an early 14-0 lead. The Soul answered with a scoring drive of their own on a rushing touchdown by fullback Melik Brown, making the score 14-7. On the Predators next possession, Roper found Toliver for another touchdown, increasing their lead to 21-7 to end the first quarter.
The Soul started out the second quarter with a score, a long 29 yardntouchdown pass from Raudabaugh to wide receiver Tiger Jones. On the Predators next possession, Roper led the offense down the field and capped the drive off with a touchdown pass to Sippio, giving Orlando a 28-14 lead. After consecutive turnovers by both teams, Philadelphia capitalized off of a Roper fumble with rushing touchdown by Raudabaugh, cutting the Predator lead to seven. With 1:09 left in the first half, Roper found Sippio on another 35-yard touchdown pass. After a missed extra point, the Predators recovered another onside kick and scored on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Roper to Sippio, his fourth touchdown reception of the game. Philadelphia added a score right before the half on a rushing touchdown by Raudabaugh. The score resulted in a 41-28 Predator lead at halftime.
The Soul received the ball to start the second half. On their possession, Soul wide receiver Emery Sammons fumbled and Preds defensive end Terrance Carter recovered. After a defensive stop, the Soul scored a touchdown pass from Raudabaugh to wide receiver Jeff Hughley. After a defensive four-and-out, the Soul had possession of the football going into the fourth quarter.
The Soul scored on their first possession in the fourth quarter, a rushing touchdown by Melik Brown, giving Philadelphia a 42-41 lead. On the Predators next possession, Roper threw his second interception of the game to Kizer, who returned it for a touchdown. The score extended the Soul lead, 49-41. The Predators answered on their next drive with a score, a rushing touchdown by Roper. Orlando failed the two-point conversion, resulting in a 49-47 Philadelphia lead. On the kick off, the Predators attempted a third onside kick but it was recovered by the Soul. With great field position, the Soul scored a touchdown, a pass from Raudabaugh to Hughley, increasing their lead 56-47 with 4:15 to play. On the Predators next possession, Roper fumbled the football, giving the ball back to the Soul. The Soul capitalized off of the turnover with a touchdown pass from Raudabaugh to Jones. The score gave the Soul a 63-47 lead with under a minute to play. The Predators added a touchdown on their next possession, a pass from Roper to Sippio, his fifth touchdown reception of the game. After failing the two point conversion, the Predators tried a fourth onside kick and the Soul recovered. Philadelphia scored with 30 seconds left in the game on a pass from Raudabauch to Jones, making the score 69-53 and putting the game out of reach for the Predators, resulting in their sixth loss of the season.
The Predators were led statistically by quarterback Justin Roper. Roper was 25-35, threw for 286 yards, and seven touchdowns. Bobby Sippio and T.T. Toliver hauled in the bulk of the receptions in the game. Sippio caught eleven passes for 153 yards and five touchdowns, and Toliver hauled in seven receptions for 56 yards and two touchdowns.
The Preds were led on defense by defensive backs Travis Coleman and Simeon Castille. Coleman totaled four tackles and had two interceptions in the game, and Castille recorded eight total tackles.
Up next the Predators will return to the road to face the rival Tampa Bay Storm in the first “War on I-4” matchup of the season. The rivalry between the two teams is one of the strongest in the AFL, with the two teams playing a total of 47 games against each other since 1991. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on May 5, 2012 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The game will broadcast live on Brighthouse Sports Network and OrlandoPredators.com/live.