Wranglers Lose In Final Seconds To Predators
AUSTIN, TX - Returning home after a disappointing loss on the road to the Arizona Rattlers, the Wranglers returned home to the Frank Erwin Center, looking to avenge a loss earlier in the season to the Orlando Predators. Following a trend that dates back to 2004 (both road teams won in 2004, both home teams won in 2005, both road teams won in 2006, and Orlando won at home in 2007), the Wranglers were destined to take this game at home from the Predators. Sadly, they fell short as Orlando scored with no time remaining, taking the game 46-45 in front of 13,428 fans.
In a game that was expected to be a defensive battle, the first quarter was no surprise to anyone as both teams put up only one touchdown each. However, the difference came when Austin lineman Rob Schroeder took down Predators quarterback Shane Stafford for a sack on third down, forcing a Jay Taylor field goal to give Orlando the lead at the end of the first quarter, 10-7.
Austin receiver Otis Amey would take over in the second quarter as he capped of two separate Wranglers drives with touchdown runs of two and four, giving the Wranglers the lead 21-17.
Following the second Amey touchdown, kicker Mark Lewis' kickoff would bounce around inside the five-yard line and after nearly being recovered by the Wranglers, the ball was ruled down at the one-yard line, where the Predators would start their drive with just over one minute left in the half.
Austin's defense stood strong, and the Predators offense continued to make mistake after mistake. After two fourth down offensive penalties, Stafford would be broken up by Wranglers newly acquired defensive back Erin Damond.
The pass break-up would give the Wranglers the ball at the one-yard line where Campbell would find the end zone on a quarterback sweep, increasing the Austin lead to 28-17 with seconds to go in the first half.
Following the touchdown, an explosive hit by Austin's Damon Mason jarred the ball loose from Predators return-man Ryan Bowers, and was eventually recovered by the Wranglers. Unfortunately, due to an AFL rule, the ball remained in Orlando's possession, giving them the chance at shortening the gap before halftime.
After an Orlando field goal, the Wranglers headed into halftime up 28-20.
The second half kicked off with Orlando getting the ball, but that would not last long as Wranglers lineman Dane Krager out-muscled an Orlando lineman, and ripped the ball away from him to give Austin the ball.
The Wranglers offense would not take long to add on to their eight-point lead as Campbell found Amey for a six-yard score, increasing the lead to 35-20.
Following an Orlando score, Campbell found Derrick Lewis all alone down the field as they connected for a 28-yard touchdown to give the Wranglers a 15-point cushion, 42-27.
Entering the fourth quarter with the lead for only the third time this season, Austin was looking to maintain the lead, and go to 2-1 when leading after the third quarter.
However, the final quarter of the night would not start off on Austin's side. Following a Predators touchdown, the Orlando defense put pressure on Campbell, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Orlando lineman Greg White.
The Wranglers defense would step up and bring Orlando to a fourth down on the two-yard line. As Stafford dropped back with the Austin lineman rushing at him, he got the ball off to receiver Ron Johnson, but Johnson would be brought down at the half-yard line by Toure Carter.
With the drive starting at their own half-yard line, the Austin offense would need to score to gain a comfortable fourth quarter lead on their opponents. This drive would come to a fourth down with one-yard to go, and Campbell would surprise the Predators defense as he heaved the ball down the field to a streaking Amey for a 37-yard gain, and first down.
Austin would cap off the drive with a Lewis field goal, extending the lead to 11, 45-34.
With just under nine minutes left to play, the Wranglers defense was looking to put an end to this game with a defensive stop, but Stafford would find receiver Javarus Dudley standing alone in the end zone for a Predators score. The following two-point conversion attempt was broken up by Damond to keep the margin at five, 45-40 Austin.
With under a minute left to play, the Predators had the ball down by five, needing just a touchdown to win. Despite an impressive defensive display by the secondary led by Damond, who finished the game with 11.5 total tackles and four pass break-ups, Orlando receiver Jimmy Fryzel got past the defense for the final score of the game, 46-45.
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