Predators come from behind to claim 56th installment of ‘War On I-4’


Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

Brandon Thompkins caught the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime to give the Predators the victory over the Storm.

The Orlando Predators came back from a 21-point deficit to defeat division rivals the Tampa Bay Storm 63-62 in overtime to break their three-game losing streak Saturday night at the Amway Center.

The same scenario that has left them with a loss on two different occasions, a two-point conversion in overtime to either grab the win or lose by one, faced the team again, but the decision on what to do was easy for the head coach Rob Keefe, go for it.

“Never in doubt, these guys fight, and they don’t give up. We got over the two point mountain, everyone thinks I’m crazy, but you have to go for two you in this league.” said the elated coach Keefe about the win, “I could not be more proud to erase the deficit we had, and this is what Arena Football is all about. This is our fourth overtime game and we finally came over that mountain.”

The two teams met for the 56th installment of the War On I-4 with almost all hope being lost in the fourth quarter with a touchdown from former Predator T.T. Toliver that would bring Tampa Bay up 55-34 with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

With fans emptying the arena at the sight of a 21-point deficit, the Predators turned a new page scoring three touchdowns in a row. The first being a 26-yard pass from Bernard Morris to Kendal Thompkins that changed the momentum for the Predators.

Jack Linebacker Terrance Moore then stepped up to make a huge interception and take it back the 25-yards for a Predator touchdown. Even with a botched onside kick that landed in the hands of the Storm on the 10-yard line, Orlando’s defense is able to make the stop and turnover on downs before scoring again with a 3-yard pass from Morris to Brandon Thompkins to tie the game up at 55.

Brandon Thompkins, the 3-year veteran from the Spokane Shock, has become an integral part of the offense making six catches for 88 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday.

With the tide of the game shifting in favor of Orlando, the Storm received the ball first in overtime and scored on the drive with a 20-yard pass from Jason Boltus to Toliver then they play it safe and go for one. This would prove to be fatal for the Storm.

“We were ready for it we wanted everybody to relax, we just have to be clutch at the end.” Said coach about his emotions heading into overtime. “We spent two whole days just focusing on the last minute of the game.”

On the Predators possession, they made it to the goal line but were held till 3rd down. A pass interference call against Storm defensive back James Harrel reset it to first down before fullback Michael Simons is able to dive into the endzone to bring Orlando within one at 62-61.

This is where the outcome is different than in the other overtime losses this season, Brandon Thompkins is able to break away from his defender and is able to be open for the 3-yard pass from Morris, winning the game for the Predators.

“We practice those scenarios all the time, we are never going to kick. Whether we score first or last, we are going to put the pressure on whoever we’re playing.” said quarterback Bernard Morris about coach’s decision to go for two instead of tying.  “It just so happened that the scenario went our way, coach made a great play, and Thompkins got open.”

Orlando native Morris finished the game completing 24 of 43 passes for 271 yards and six touchdowns.

The win improves Orlando’s record to 4-4 and places them at the top of the South Division.

The Predators will return to their home turf next week to face the Portland Thunder on Saturday, May 23, at the Amway Center.