Predators dismantle the Blaze by 15 points

Mar 26 2011 - 9:39pm

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Game 2 of an 18-week season isn't too early for statement games. Saturday definitely wasn't the type of statement the Utah Blaze wanted to make.

Hoping to build even more momentum after dismantling Tampa Bay last week, Utah instead dropped a 68-53 decision to the Orlando Predators before an announced Amway Center crowd of 12,186 that included former Florida Gator/current Denver Bronco Tim Tebow.

Blaze QB Tommy Grady could match Orlando's Nick Hill when it came to touchdown passes, but three picks and two fumbles allowed the Predators -- who were one game away from last year's Arena Bowl -- to enjoy a victory that wasn't at close as the final score indicated.

"When you're trying to build a solid football team, week end and week out you want the execution to be at a high level," said Utah coach Ron James. "The effort was there tonight, the execution wasn't. That's the hallmark of a good team to be consistent. We're just not there yet."

After matching Orlando touchdown for touchdown on the first two possessions, Utah gave up a pick and a fumble and turned the ball over on downs, and Orlando capitalized.

The Predators (2-0) overcame their one first-half turnovers, scoring on their other six possessions for a 37-19 halftime.

"It's disheartening when a young team turns the ball over on the road," James said. "Against a good team, you can't do that."

Utah (1-1) didn't go away.

Aaron Boone, whose monster six-touchdown game may be overlooked as the season progresses, won a held ball with Orlando's Rayshun Kiser for a touchdown on the opening possession of the third quarter, and Grady hit Earnest Pierce later in the period as Utah closed to 44-33.

Kiser then took control with two of his three interceptions, including a 20-yard return for a touchdown as Orlando took a 58-33 lead with 11:58 remaining.

Grady finished 31 of 49 for 318 yards, but the three interceptions hurt.

"Sub par effort," James said. "We expect more out of Tommy. Those interceptions weren't typical of him.

Both Pierce and Boone finished with 12 catches, gaining 138 and 91 yards, respectively.

Hill's 331 yards and eight TDs were distributed with incredible balance, with all three Predator receiver gaining over 100 yards. T.T. Toliver (9-124) and Robert Quiroga (8-103) scored three touchdowns each while Bobby Sippio (7-104) had two.

Utah hosts Dallas Thursday.



Dan Ryan



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