Predators advance to American Conference Championship


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Bernard Morris threw for four touchdowns and ran in another four, as the Predators defeated the Pittsburgh Power to advance to the American Conference Championship game.

Greg Carr showed his vertical advantage catching four touchdown passes and helping bring the Orlando Predators over the Pittsburgh Power 56-48 in the first playoff game of the season on Sunday, August 3 at the CFE Arena.

The Predators won the coin toss to allow them to defer and kick the ball to Pittsburgh to start the game. The Power would then score on their first drive with a pass to Prechae Rodriguez from Tommy Grady. Orlando then scored a touchdown to bring the game to a tie.

The teams traded touchdowns until a turnover-on-downs put Pittsburgh on the 5-yard line, giving the Power a chance to pull away before the half, when Orlando would receive the ball. But Orlando quarterback Bernard Morris, with only five seconds remaining, connects with Greg Carr in the endzone to tie the game up at 28-28 and to close out the first half.

The Predator’s defense, however, looked rather dismal in the first half allowing Pittsburgh’s Tommy Grady to complete 9-16 passes for 99 yards and four touchdowns.

Orlando would come back from the locker rooms looking like a whole new team, scoring two touchdowns in a row to kickoff the second half. After trading one-for-one, the Power would score two touchdowns in a row to bring them within one point of Orlando, 49-48, with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.

Morris would then dive into the endzone over his defenders to score one final touchdown with only a minute left of play. Orlando would then successfully complete an onside kick, putting Orlando on their own 11-yard line with only 50 seconds of game time left and solidifying their first playoff win of the season.

“I don’t eat before games, because I get so worked up I throw up” said head coach Rob Keefe as he walked into the press conference eating a banana and asking for a water bottle.

This quote says a lot about Keefe and his loyalty to the team and how much he truly cares about the franchise.

“We had a lot of people that didn’t believe that we would win more than four, five games.” said head coach Rob Keefe about winning a playoff game. “I know that if I make sure that I’m doing all the right things on and off the field, I know that I can prove that I’m one of the best coaches in this league.

“But you can’t be a great coach without great players, and you can’t be a great coach without a great staff and I realize that whatever people think of me, you can’t take away what this organization has accomplished.”

With new owner and Westgate mogul David Siegel in the building, the team had everything to prove tonight, and they succeeded in proving they were a reputable team with the ArenaBowl in sight.

“The dam was getting pretty heavy to hold up there, I felt like i was part owner, a lot of my own money was being invested in this thing to keep the daily operations of food, housing a travel, to continue. And like a parent, you don’t want the kids to know what’s going on and if they see mom or dad having trouble, the child struggles.” said Keefe about the new ownership making a difference in the team. “I could not be more happy that Mr. Siegel and Westgate came in at the time that they did cause for the players, it helped them realize that they have support.”

Quarterback Bernard Morris completed 19-38 passes for 221 yards and four touchdowns and one interception. He would also show his true athleticism as a versatile quarterback running in three more.

“It’s a blessing to be in this situation, coming back home and playing for the home team, it doesn’t get any better for me. And winning the division and having the opportunity to win the conference, which I’ve been to the past two years, now i just gotta punch my ticket into the ArenaBowl.” said Morris about the win and the chance to win the championship.

The Predators will return to the gridiron to face the 18-1 Cleveland Gladiators this Sunday, August 10, in Cleveland, Ohio for the American Conference championship.