PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Press release from Orlando Predators) - Aaron Garcia, the 18-year AFL veteran and the League’s all-time passing and touchdown leader, threw six touchdowns in his Orlando debut, as the Predators won their first game of the season, 52-38, in front of 4,174 at CONSOL Energy Center tonight. Garcia, the Russell Athletic Offensive Player Of The Game, was recently acquired in a trade with the San Jose SaberCats,
The Pittsburgh Power fell to 1-5 on the season and 0-4 at home. The Orlando Predators improved to 1-5.
On the game’s opening drive, the Power’s Jordan Jefferson connected with P.J. Berry for a 47-yard pass on 4th and 13, which brought the ball to the Predators’ 1-yard line. Jefferson found the end zone on the next play to give the Power a 6-0 lead. Orlando would answer the score on a Marlon Moye-Moore 2-yard touchdown run. The point after was good giving the Predators a 7-6 lead.
After stopping Pittsburgh on 4th and goal at the 1-yard line, Orlando would march down the field, and on 4th down and 3 from the Power 12-yard line, Perchae Rodriguez’s acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone (the Cutters Catch Of The Game) from Garcia extended their lead to 14-6.
Berry would return the ensuing kickoff 36 yards to the Orlando 19, but the Power would go 4-and-out. The Predators would score five plays later when Garcia found Jason Geathers for a 12-yard touchdown to take a 21-6 lead. The Power closed the gap to eight points at 21-13 after Jefferson found Shamar Graves for his first touchdown of the season, a 4-yard score on 4th and goal with 4:47 left in the half. Garcia and Rodriguez closed out the first half scoring on a 38-yard touchdown three plays later to make the score 28-13.
The Power started the second half by turning two Orlando turnovers into touchdowns. On the Predators’ opening drive, Willie McGinnis recovered a Garcia fumble at the Orlando 19-yard line. Jefferson and Graves connected for another touchdown three plays later from 4 yards out to make the score 28-20. On the Predators’ next drive, Alvin Ray Jackson turned a Garcia attempt into a 44-yard pick-6 (AFL Highlight Of The Game) to get the Power within two points at 28-26. The point after was wide right. That was the closest the Power would come the rest of the game.
Rodriguez’s third touchdown of the game gave Orlando a 35-26 lead at the end of the 3rd quarter.
The Predators added to their lead with a Mark Lewis 23-yard field goal at 10:37 of the 4th quarter, making the score 38-27. The Power would cut the deficit to six points after Mike Washington’s first touchdown of the game made the score 38-32 with 7:03 remaining.
Garcia threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to T.T. Toliver with 4:31 remaining, making the score 45-32. The Power made it a one-possession game at 45-38 with Kirby Griffin’s rushing touchdown with 1:00 remaining in regulation, but Orlando recovered the Power’s on-side kick attempt and scored on the next play on Garcia’s sixth touchdown pass of the game. Orlando would run out the clock, taking home the 52-38 victory.
Aaron Garcia was 27-36 for 278 yards to go with his six touchdown passes. Jordan Jefferson was 20-38 for 252 yards and three touchdowns. The Power’s Alvin Ray Jackson, the Riddell Defensive Player Of The Game, had 9 total tackles, including 4 solo to go with his interception for touchdown.