Featured Image Credit: facebook.com/orlandopreds
This article features work from two writers, who were both in attendance as members of the media.
The latest installment of the Arena Football League’s greatest rivalry, The War on I4, occurred on Saturday night. The hometown Orlando Predators picked up a win against their hated rivals, the Tampa Bay Storm, in the CFE Arena. The final score from the game was 77-65. With the win, Orlando improves to 4-2 while Tampa Bay drops to 3-3, giving the Predators the lead in the American South division.
So how did the Predators achieve victory?
It started with a 14-0 lead and they never really looked back. Khalil Paden scored the first touchdown of the game for Orlando, and then they got a goal line stand. The following possession lead to more points for Orlando, and it was quarterback Jason Boltus connecting with Kendal Thompkins for a 14-0 lead. The Storm would respond, but the Predators
answered again for a 20-7 lead after the missed extra point at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter began with a Storm touchdown. Former Orlando Predator standout TT Toliver got the touchdown catch, and the lead was cut to 6. The teams went back and forth and after Boltus hooked up with Greg Carr for a 34-20 lead, the Storm would score back and go for two. The conversion failed, but then some drama started happening. A brawl broke out between the rivals, and it led to the ejection of a player from both teams. The Predators lost defensive back Phillip Thomas and the Storm lost wide receiver Joe Hills for the remainder of the game. The first half ended with the Predators ahead 41-32.
Things got interesting in the third quarter. The Storm received the kickoff and scored, making it a 2 point game. The Predators would score and fail the two point conversion attempt, and the Storm responded with a touchdown of their own. The lead was cut to one point. Boltus would again connect with Thompkins for a 54-46 lead. After that, head coach Rob Keefe decided to take a risk and attempt the onside kick. It would be successful, and the Predators capitalized with a Boltus touchdown run. The lead was then 61-46 heading in to the final quarter of play.
The first big play of the 4th quarter was an interception. Predators defensive back Tracy Belton picked off Randy Hippeard’s pass attempt. Again, the Predators scored with a Greg Carr touchdown, and the lead was now 22, making it nearly impossible for Tampa Bay to come back.
That does not mean they gave up.
A quick touchdown got it back to a 15 point game, but all hope seemed to be lost when the Storm’s onside kick was recovered by Tracy Belton and taken in for a touchdown. The Predator lead was then 75-53. The Storm would score again and fail the two point conversion attempt. On their next possession, they got something positive. Defensive end Matt Hardison intercepted Boltus’ pass attempt. The Storm managed to cut the lead to 10 with a TT Toliver touchdown. They would try for two, but it was picked off by Greg Carr and taken to the house for two more Predator points. This gave the Predators a 77-65 lead, which would be the final score from the game.
The Predators are now 2-0 against the Storm this year, clinching the series against them. Their third and final game against them will be in Tampa on June 21st. Orlando’s next game is on April 26th at home against the struggling New Orleans VooDoo, whose only win came against Orlando on April 3rd in New Orleans. The Storm’s next game is on the same day, facing the Spokane Shock in Tampa.
It was a great night to be a Predators fan!
~Conner Wight and Dakota Henning