Predators suffer heart-breaking loss to Gunslingers

Despite a dominating first half performance, the Predators suffered a last second, controversial loss to the Gunslingers.

The Predators (3-5) were defeated by the San Antonio Gunslingers (2-5) with a score of 55-53 on Friday night at home. In a game where Orlando started the game out strong, scoring 36 first half points to San Antonio’s 21, the team allowed San Antonio to inch its way back into the game.

“That’s been our team,” quarterback Rakeem Cato said. We just need to come together and play four quarters of Predator’s football. Sometimes we start out slow and have a strong second half and vice versa.

As a quarterback and a captain of this team, I try to tell everybody we need to be laser focused and bring the energy. We just need to capitalize.”

Despite a 204 passing-yards and six touchdown performance by Cato, Cato threw two interceptions in the game, which contributed to the four turnovers the Predators had during the game.

“You can’t have turnovers,” head coach Jeff Higgins said. “Of course they made plays and we made plays too, but turning the ball over and missed tackles really stood out during the game.”

In a bizarre ending to the Predators heart-breaking loss, the Gunslingers were able to drive down the field and receive a stoppage at the goal line, with no timeouts, with four seconds left after a previous play went under review for a touchdown. Gunslingers quarterback Robert Kent was able to run the ball in on the final play of the game to put the Gunslingers on top.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cato said. “I’ve been playing football since I was six years old and I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s ridiculous.”

Despite a bitter ending, an area in which the team has improved through the course of the season is in special teams. Kicker Daniel Justino converted two deuces in the matchup against the Gunslingers, bringing his total to five on the season. 

Defense continued to stand out for the Predators as the ballhawking tandem of defensive backs Joshua Jenkins and Dalvon Randall, who now leads the league with seven interceptions, were each able to come away with an interception in the game. Fullback and linebacker Desmond Maxwell was able to recover a forced fumble by lineman Freddie Booth-Lloyd and return it for a touchdown.

The defensive line tandem of Booth-Lloyd and defensive end and tight end Sha-Ki Holines were able to come away with three sacks collectively.

Wide Receiver Clarence Williams continued his breakout year and hauled in five catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

Up next, the Predators are hoping to get some revenge when they travel to Jacksonville to take on the Sharks (4-5) on Saturday. With the playoffs along the horizon, with the Sharks ahead of them in the race, the Predators are looking forward to a battle. 

“Jacksonville is always a dog fight,” lineman De’Quan Murray said. “The way the game went last week, it’s only fueling us for the next two weeks. Everything is full steam ahead.”