The Orlando Predators are off to the franchise’s best start in 16 years. With a 42-40 victory over the Tampa Bay Storm (0-6) in front of a season-high crowd of 12,971 at Amway Center, the Predators advanced to 7-0 for the first time since 2000, tying the second-best start in team history.
Randy Hippeard completed 16-of-26 pass attempts for 220 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. Greg Carr and Kendal Thompkins each hauled in two touchdown passes while Brandon added another scoring reception as well as a 57-yard kickoff returned for a touchdown.
Kent Richardson paced the defense, logging 8.5 total tackles with one tackle for loss, one interception, and two pass breakups. Varmah Sonie posted four total tackles while adding three pass breakups.
The Predators trailed 14-7 in the first quarter after Storm quarterback Jason Boltus connected with T.T. Toliver and Phillip Barnett on touchdown throws. Hippeard hit Greg Carr from eight yards out on the Predators first drive, then found Brandon Thompkins for a 21-yard score to tie the game on the opening drive of the second quarter.
The Storm regained the lead off a one-yard touchdown run by linebacker Jimmy Gordon, but Orlando tied it moments later as Brandon Thompkins took the ensuing kickoff the length of the field for a 57-yard score. Boltus would find the end zone on a one-yard run with 38 seconds remaining to give Tampa Bay a 27-21 advantage at halftime.
Three plays in the third quarter, Kendal Thompkins took a short pass and turned it into a 39-yard score, side-stepping multiple defenders on his way to the end zone to put the Predators on top, 28-27. The Predators defense forced a quick four-play turnover on downs a series later and Hippeard turned to Thompkins once again, connecting on a six-yard score for a 35-27 advantage.
Boltus hit Toliver on a 16-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, but Predators linebacker Willie McGinnis blocked the PAT for a 35-33 lead heading into the final quarter.
Greg Carr hauled in a seven-yard touchdown throw and Storm wide receiver Phillip Barnett caught a four-yard score before Tampa Bay regained possession with 3:42 remaining in the game as the Predators held a 42-40 lead. Facing 4th-&-4 from near midfield, Kent Richardson stepped in front of the pass attempt by Boltus and secured a game-winning interception to seal the victory.
The Predators travel to take on the Philadelphia Soul in Week 8 in a nationally-televised matchup on CBS Sports Network. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 21.
UNDER ARMOUR OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Orlando WR Greg Carr
RIDDELL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Tampa Bay LB Jimmy Gordon
J.LEWIS SMALL PLAYMAKER OF THE GAME: Tampa Bay LB Jimmy Gordon
CUTTERS CATCH OF THE GAME: 45-yard reception by Orlando WR Greg Carr (Q3 | 3:09)
AFL HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME: Tampa Bay WR T.T. Toliver becomes first player in AFL history with 5,000 receiving yards, 400 receptions on two different teams (Orlando & Tampa Bay)
Score By Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total
Orlando Predators 7 14 14 7 42
Tampa Bay Storm 14 13 6 7 40
TB – Toliver 18 yd pass from Boltus (Peterson kick) 10:01.
ORL – Carr 8 yd pass from Hippeard (Lewis kick) 4:53.
TB – Barnett 23 yd pass from Boltus (Peterson kick) 1:21.
ORL – B. Thompkins 21 yd pass from Hippeard (Lewis kick) 10:00.
TB – Gordon 1 yd run (Peterson kick) 7:23.
ORL – B. Thompkins 57 yd kickoff return (Lewis kick) 6:39.
TB – Boltus 1 yd run (Peterson kick failed) 0:38.
ORL – K. Thompkins 39 yd pass from Hippeard (Lewis kick) 13:00.
ORL – K. Thompkins 6 yd pass from Hippeard (Lewis kick) 8:27.
TB – Toliver 16 yd pass from Boltus (Peterson kick blocked) 4:22.
ORL – Carr 7 yd pass from Hippeard (Lewis kick) 14:50.
TB – Barnett 4 yd pass from Boltus (Peterson kick) 7:27.
Article provided and written by the Orlando Predators.