Wranglers stumble against Predators, 45-30
ORLANDO - Turnovers proved costly for the Austin Wranglers as they lost to the Orlando Predators 45-30 in the hostile confines of Amway Arena in front of 12,794 people.
In one of the Arena Football League's most touted Southern Division match-ups of the short season, both teams entered the game following a loss and hoped to bounce back to get a hand-up in the division. The Southern Division is known for its low scoring games and its powerful defenses and tonight's battle proved to be no different.
Although both teams took their opening possessions the length of the field for touchdowns, the Wranglers offense started to unravel at the 7:08 mark as wide receiver Kevin Nickerson fumbled while trying to gain some extra position. Orlando scored on the next drive giving them the early lead 14-7.
Wranglers quarterback Adrian McPherson, who returned to his native Florida this evening, didn't have the homecoming he expected as he threw his first interception of the young season at the 4:05 mark of the first quarter. He had gone eight quarters and some change without an interception, but in tonight's game, he finished with three interceptions on 23-of-39 passing with three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).
With the Austin offense struggling, the Wranglers defense came through and showed many moments of greatness, holding the Predators on fourth down to begin the second quarter. Following a drive that again looked promising for the Wranglers, McPherson was intercepted. Almost able to hold Orlando's offense on the goal line for the second straight drive, Predators fullback Marlon Moye-Moore just barely got into the end zone at the one-minute warning to go ahead 21-7.
In one of the truest Arena Football moments, the next minute would prove to be a 13-point swing for the Wranglers. Getting the ball back, the Wranglers were presented with a fourth down with 20 seconds remaining in the half. McPherson demonstrated again his athletic mobility as he dodged several Predators defenders and was able to muscle the ball 31 yards to wide receiver Otis Amey who bobbled the ball and maintained the focus to make the grab for the touchdown.
Special teams delivered again for the Wranglers as kicker Mark Lewis drilled a ball off the iron, which was recovered by speedster wide receiver Sedrick Robinson for another Wranglers touchdown. M.Lewis missed the extra-point, which left Austin still down by one.
Though the Wranglers got the momentum back at the end of the first half, the Predators clearly dominated the second half, outscoring Austin 24-10. Austin's only points in the second half came on a McPherson one-yard dash into the end zone and a M.Lewis 33-yard field goal. Attempting a desperation pass, McPherson lofted a ball with three seconds remaining in the game, which was intercepted again by Predators defensive back Ryan Bowers, his second pick of the night.
Austin goes to 1-2 overall and 0-2 in the Southern Division while Orlando moves to 2-1 and 2-0 in the division
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