Orlando Predators fall in overtime 55-56 to the Cleveland Gladiators


Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

Larry Brackins throws a game ball into the stands after his third touchdown of the night.

It was déjà vu for the Orlando predators as they lost in overtime 55-56 to the Cleveland Gladiators Saturday at the Amway Center in front of the smallest recorded crowd this year of 9,212 fans.

This is the second week in a row that the team has lost in overtime after a failed two-point conversion. Orlando narrowly lost by the same exact score last week to the Spokane Shock after Bernard Morris was short on a quarterback keep.

The Predators now fall to 3-3 for the season but are still tied with the Tampa Bay Storm at the top of the South Division. All three games have been lost by a total of nine points.

“I feel like the guys played hard, the effort, the intensity was there, but the biggest thing for me is we gotta be clutch in these moments,” said head coach Rob Keefe about repeat scenario. “We failed the test because we are not clutch at the end, the hardest thing a coach can do is to teach clutchness.”

The game was an even match from the start with Cleveland scoring first and the two teams trading punch for punch till the end of regulation before entering overtime 49-49.

An eleven yard pass from Shane Austin to Collin Taylor in the final two seconds of the fourth quarter to bring the game into overtime, a familiar sight for a team that just lost last week.

After winning the coin toss and electing to kick first at overtime, Cleveland was able to score on their first drive and go up 56-49 with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Dominick Goodman from Austin and a successful PAT.

A 30-yard kick return from Brandon Thompkins set the Predators on Cleveland’s 20-yard line, then Orlando was able to score thanks to a 20-yard bomb from Randy Hippeard to Kendal Thompkins bringing them within one at 56-55.

“Were gonna go for two if we didn’t go for two and we just kicked an extra point it would have gone to sudden death obviously they got the ball first, first person to score wins. That’s why you go for two.” said Keefe about his decision to go for two in overtime.

Luck was not on Orlando’s side however, as the two point conversion attempt from Randy Hippeard isn’t caught, costing the Predators the game.

Despite the loss Larry Brackins had a veteran performance Saturday catching six passes for 47 yards and three touchdowns.

“He’s a veteran, he’s a good player. Big players in big time games make big time plays and we need more of those players like him.” said Keefe on Brackins’ performance. “Larry’s played in seven conference championships, four ArenaBowls, he’s even won them before, and you just got to get guys who know how to be in those moments.”

The Predators return to the field next Saturday, May 8, to face the 6-0 Philadelphia Soul in Philadelphia.