Power topples Predators in opener
ORLANDO -- Following a week of labor disputes between owners and players, the Pittsburgh Power opened the 25th season of the Arena Football League on Friday by gutting out a 40-26 win over the Orlando Predators in front of an announced crowd of 13,002 at Amway Center.
Quarterback Andrico Hines went 18 of 35 for 266 yards and six touchdowns, and Mike Washington caught nine passes for 166 yards and four touchdowns for the Power.
The Power competed for much of the night with just seven of its original players from training camp after the AFL Players Union elected to go on strike just hours before kickoff.
The entire Power roster was then released from the team by co-owner and general manager Matt Shaner. Several players opted to return in time for pregame.
Among them was Hines, who was behind center in place of projected starter Kyle Rowley. Defensive back Chris LeFlore and wide receiver Oderick Turner also lined up for pregame activities.
The Power took a 26-20 lead with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter and never looked back after Hines hooked up with P.J. Berry, who went the length of the field for the go-ahead score.
The Power tacked on another touchdown and two-point conversion to extend their lead to 34-20 with 13 minutes to play, when Hines found Washington for his third touchdown of the game. The score came after the Power forced the Predators to turn the ball over on downs.
Orlando pulled within 34-26 when Orlando starting quarterback Collin Drafts, among four Predators' players who returned in time for the start of the game, snuck past the goal line from a yard out.
The Power forced the Preds to turn the ball over on downs five times in the win. Domine Pittman, a replacement player for the Power, finished with two quarterback sacks. Bryan Williams led the way defensively with eight solo tackles.
After a scoreless first quarter, which featured a combined five turnover-on-downs, the Power took an 8-0 lead on a touchdown pass from Hines to Randy Himes with just less than 12 minutes to play in the opening half.
"There was a lot of emotions and a lot of thoughts going through people's heads in the locker room about today's experience," Pittsburgh coach Chris Siegfried said. "We came out here and assembled a team the best we could. We had a lot of guys showing up to play, and I was basically following my marching orders by putting the best guys out there, and fortunately, it was enough for us to get the win."
Hines then found Washington near the corner of the goal line for the two-point conversion.
The Power took a 14-6 lead on a long touchdown pass from Hines to Washington with five minutes to go in the first half but failed on the two-point try. LeFlore intercepted Orlando's Drafts with seven seconds left before halftime to maintain the tie.