Kats Stun Predators, 62-32

The Nashville Kats stunned the Orlando Predators, 62-32, at the Kia Center in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, July 5.

Pass Rush

The Kats’ pass rush was unrelenting all evening, disrupting the Predators’ offense for four straight quarters.

While Quarterback Drew Powell began the game by completing seven straight passes, the pressure of the defensive line, especially the combination of Ezekiel Rose and Justin Thomas, visibly affected Powell’s timing and accuracy.

Although the game had all the makings of a quarterback duel for the ages, Rose’s pressure led to Powell’s costly fumble, which shifted the momentum of the game completely in favor of the Kats.

After the fumble, Powell could not find receivers early in the clock and either underthrew or threw behind his receivers in the most critical possessions of the game. Powell began to find somewhat of a rhythm in the fourth quarter, but at the cost of taking big hits from the defense.

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Special Teams

Perhaps the greatest question mark coming into the game was Nashville’s special teams unit.

Although poor field position had cost the Kats all season long, the Kats started with an average starting field position at midfield, while the Predators started with the ball at the 5-yard line.

Wide receiver Kendrick Ings did it all for the Kats as a returner, and his shiftiness and broken tackles gave the Kats a phenomenal field position at the beginning of each possession.

On the other side, the Kats, who have struggled mightily all season to give their defense good field position, kept the Predators near their own endzone for the entirety of the game, as the Predators had trouble returning kicks into the playing field.

Defensive back Jay Woods, in particular, dominated on special teams and found his way to the ball on many critical possessions.

Offensive Chemistry

It is no secret that Quarterback Randy Hippeard is quite a talented player. After his 6-touchdown performance in his return to the AFL last month, Hippeard followed up that act by completing 15-21 passes for 165 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Hippeard’s first touchdown of the day went to Braxton Haley who housed the football on a 47-yard play. The pair did not slow down as Hippeard found Haley for two more passes for touchdowns. Haley finished the game with 3 receptions for 62 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Spreading the ball around effectively, Hippeard connected with seven total receivers, with Ings reeled in 4 passes, the most receptions for a Kats receiver on the day. Touchdowns also went to Ings, Marquise Irvin, Milton Williams, and James Atoe, while Irvin punched in a second on the ground, with Carlton Brown rumbling for a score as well.

On the other hand, while Powell’s chemistry with his receivers was clearly evident—Clarence Williams finished the game with 11 receptions, 99 yards, and a touchdown; Karmin Solomon caught 9 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown; and Caleb Walls caught 9 passes for 53 yards—Powell could not get into a rhythm in the second and third quarters of the game. The Kats were too disruptive in the pass rush and secondary and ran away with the win.

The Kats face the Outlaws at TDS Fiber Field at MetraPark Arena in Billings, Montana, on Saturday, July 13 at 10 pm EDT.

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