The Gunslingers fall just short of the Orlando Predators in a dramatic nail biter, losing their home opener 36-44. Despite the Predators taking a commanding 32-6 lead to end the first half, the Gunslingers battled tooth and nail to bring themselves back into the game, finding ways to score on every side of the ball.
The Gunslingers look to bounce back and secure their first NAL victory as they host the Columbus Lions in Week 2.
Orlando Seizes Control
The Gunslingers kicked off their inaugural season in the National Arena League pistols blazing as they scored their first touchdown on just the third play of the game. A blocked extra point kept the score at 6-0.
The Predators quickly evened the score with a touchdown of their own, capitalizing on a costly penalty against the Gunslingers on 4th and Goal. A converted extra point gave Orlando the lead, 6-7.
In an effort to regain the lead, Gunslingers quarterback Javin Kilgo skillfully drove the San Antonio offense down the field, making it as far as the opposing 2-yard line. On the brink of another touchdown, disaster struck on 3rd down as the ball was snapped over Kilgo’s head, launching the ball all the way back to midfield, effectively killing the drive.
The Gunslingers’ red-hot start had been snuffed out, and from then until the end of the half it was all Orlando’s game. Two touchdowns on two consecutive drives put the Predators up by two scores, and two interceptions by Kilgo helped add to the deficit. Both picks ultimately led to touchdowns for the Predators, making the score 6-32 to end the half.
Despite their frustrating first half, the Gunslingers weren’t beaten, nor were they out of the fight.
The Comeback That Almost Was
The Predators launched their second half campaign with another touchdown, setting the score at 6-38.
The Gunslingers swiftly powered their way back into the game, finding unconventional ways to score points and overcome the deficit. A masterful kickoff return by Kali Rashaad, a renowned member of last year’s Gunslingers squad, and a heads-up fumble recovery by Tre Harlan both secured touchdowns for San Antonio, making the score 18-38.
The Predators put another touchdown on the board with a deep pass to Lonnie Outlaw, but the Gunslingers bounced back once again with three touchdown drives of their own. It was 36-44 and for the first time since the second quarter, it was a one score game.
The Gunslingers were in striking distance of tying the Predators, but time was running low.
With less than three minutes on the clock, the last chance the Gunslingers had was recovering an onside kick. The kick, however, was recovered by Orlando, and with that the fate of the match was secured.