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Orlando Predators fall to Pittsburgh Power

The Orlando Predators lost their fifth consecutive game in an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Power on Saturday. After leading 41-17 at halftime, the Predators gave up 34 second half points, forcing an overtime quarter.

Before the game started, it was announced the Predators were making another change to their offense. Justin Roper was getting his first start of the season at quarterback, replacing Collin Drafts. The game served as the first AFL start for Roper, who is a rookie out of the University of Montana.

Roper wasted no time getting settled in the first quarter. On the Predators first possession, Roper hit newly acquired wide receiver Bobby Sippio on a 15-yard touchdown strike. After a Predators missed extra point, the Power received the ball and scored on their first play of the drive, a 45-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrico Hines to wide receiver PJ Berry, giving Pittsburgh a 7-6 lead. On Orlando's next possession, Roper found Eley, Jr. for a touchdown pass, making the score 13-7. After a defensive stop, Roper found Sippio for another touchdown pass, giving the Predators a 20-7 lead to close out the first quarter.

Pittsburgh opened up the second quarter with a drive that ended in a field goal by Collin Wagner, cutting Orlando's lead, 20-10. The Predators answered the Power field goal with a seven-minute drive that resulted in a touchdown pass from Roper to wide receiver T.T. Toliver, expanding their lead, 27-10. On the Power's next possession, Predators defensive back Eddie Moten intercepted a Derek Cassidy pass and returned it for a touchdown, increasing their lead, 34-10. With 25 seconds left in the first half, the Power added a touchdown on a pass from Cassidy to wide receiver Mike Washington. The Predators answered with a quick scoring drive, a touchdown pass from Roper to Sippio, giving the Predators a 41-17 lead at the half.

The Predators opened up the second half with a long scoring drive that resulted in a Roper touchdown pass to wide receiver Nate Forse, expanding their lead 48-17. Pittsburgh responded with a scoring drive, a 24-yard touchdown pass from Cassidy to wide receiver Randy Hymes. After a Roper interception, Cassidy threw a pass that was intercepted by Moten in the end zone. Moten fumbled the football and the Power recovered, resulting in a Pittsburgh touchdown. The Power successfully attempted a two point conversion, making the score was 41-32, with the Predators leading going into the fourth quarter.

The Power started the fourth quarter with a scoring drive, a rushing touchdown by Cassidy. The score cut the Predators lead to 10. After Roper's second interception of the game, the Power marched down the field and scored a touchdown, a pass from Cassidy to Washington. Pittsburgh missed the extra point resulting in a 48-44 Predators lead with 5:07 left in the fourth quarter. On Orlando's next possession Roper threw his third interception of the game. On the Power possession, Cassidy threw a pass that was intercepted by Travis Coleman. The Predators capitalized on the turnover with a Mark Lewis field goal. The score gave the Predators a 51-44 lead with 54 seconds left in the game. The Power answered the score with a quick touchdown pass to Hymes, tying the game 51-51 with 37 seconds left. With four seconds left to play, the Predators attempted a field goal but missed it, sending the game into overtime.

In the overtime quarter, Mark Lewis kicked a field goal, giving the Predators a 54-51 lead. On the Power's possession, Pittsburgh scored on their first play, a touchdown pass from Cassidy to receiver Chris Wise. The score ended the game and gave the Predators their fifth straight loss of the season, dropping their record to 0-5 overall.

The Predators were led statistically by quarterback Justin Roper. In his AFL debut, the rookie quarterback completed 24 passes out of 46 attempts, threw for six touchdowns, 245 yards, and three interceptions. Newly acquired receiver Bobby Sippio had a productive first game back with the Predators. Sippio hauled in seven receptions for 83 yards, and had three touchdown receptions.

The Predators were led defensively by defensive back Simeon Castille and defensive back Eddie Moten. Castille had four total tackles and Moten had two tackles, two interceptions, and a touchdown in his second start this season.

Up next the Predators return for a home game at the Amway Center after playing two straight road games against Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The Preds will face the Georgia Force on Friday, April 20th at 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will stream live on OrlandoPredators.com/Live.