Predators fall 55-33 in first round of playoffs to Sharks, ending season

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Danny Morales / Valencia Voice

The Orlando Predators ended their season on a sad note as they fell to the Jacksonville Sharks 55-33 in the first round of the playoffs at home to end their 2015 season.

After finishing the regular season with a franchise best 12 wins and six loses, Orlando fell short in the quarterfinals in their worst deficit of the season to their division rivals who they have beat in five out of their last six matchups.

Early on the Predators were unable to perform in the first half, falling behind 0-14 by the end of the first quarter.

“We started slow, you can’t do that in the playoffs. It’s unfortunate because these guys bust their humps all year. I’m most disappointed because that’s not how we coach, and that’s not how we’ve played all season.” said the disheartened head coach Rob Keefe.

Orlando is able to make their first successful drive of the night three minutes into the second quarter with a 45-yard hail mary to Brandon Thompkins who was able to escape his defender and make the catch to put Orlando on the board for the first time.

The second quarter would then see five touchdowns with three of them from the Sharks to widen the gap. Jacksonville headed to the locker rooms at the half ahead 35-14.

A valiant effort was made in the third quarter by the Predators who were able to score two touchdowns to bring themselves within eight at 35-27 with catches from Larry Brackins and Kendal Thompkins.

They were then shut down in the fourth quarter by the Sharks who took back control of the game with three more scores to bring the final score to 55-27.

Quarterback Randy Hippeard was not able to make an impression in the game completing only 54.2 percent of his passes throwing 25 of 46 for 286 yards, 5 touchdowns and two interceptions.

“It was nothing that he did wrong, he was under pressure a lot, receivers dropped balls. This was Randy’s first playoff game. He is a great quarterback, but to be excellent you have to be in this situation a lot more.” said Keefe about his starting quarterback.

The entire receiving corp saw action however Greg Carr making eight receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown. Kendal and Brandon Thompkins both made five receptions totaling 127 yards and one touchdown each.

Even through the loss, Keefe had some opinions to share about the AFL and how the league handles its business.

“The league has to take a long look at itself and wonder why we play in August when we’re losing sponsorships, TV ratings, and eyes to the NFL preseason. That’s just ridiculous to me.” said Keefe about the league operating during the NFL. “With all these people watching Jameis Winston play over us is just ridiculous.”

The loss marks the end of the season for the Orlando Predators who finished the season with a respectable 12-7 and will now head into a long offseason until next year.

Jacksonville moves on to face the Philadelphia Soul in the American Conference finals where the winner will head to the ArenaBowl.