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ORLANDO - The Utah Blaze (6-7) used a second half defensive stop, a blocked extra point and a big night from Offensive Player of the Year candidate, SIAHA BURLEY, to propel them to a 65-62 victory over the Orlando Predators (7-5) at Amway Arena on Friday night. The victory ended a five-game losing streak for the Blaze.
"We played a complete game tonight," said Blaze head coach/general manager DANNY WHITE. "There are always areas to improve, but this was definitely the lift we needed and will carry us through the remainder of the season."
Burley was named Offensive Player of the Game with 14 receptions for 191 yards and four touchdowns. WR/LB TOM PACE earned Ironman of the Game honors by recording nine receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns. The former Sun Devil also added 131 return yards and recovered three onside kicks to help seal the victory in the fourth quarter.
Orlando DL GREG WHITE was named the ADT Defensive Player of the Game by recording 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles and a forced fumble.
On the opening possession, Predator QB SHANE STAFFORD connected with WR RON JOHNSON for a seven-yard touchdown to open the scoring. The Blaze countered with two JOE GERMAINE-to-Burley touchdowns to end the first quarter tied at 14-14.
A Germaine rushing touchdown and a OL ROB GATRELL four-yard touchdown reception sandwiched a Pace six-yard touchdown as both teams put up 21 points to bring the halftime score to 35-35.
The Blaze began the third quarter with possession as Germaine connected with Burley for a 19-yard scoring strike to open the second-half scoring. The Blaze defense then got a stop when Stafford's fourth-down pass from the Utah 10-yard line fell incomplete. But, on the very next play, Orlando forced a Germaine fumble and MARLON MOYE-MOORE recovered for a Predators touchdown and tied the score at 42-42.
The two teams continued to exchange scores until 1:52 remaining in the fourth when Stafford hit Johnson on a 29-yard touchdown to make the score 56-55. The turning point in the game came when Orlando K JAY TAYLOR's extra point was then blocked by OL/DL JOHN CULP and returned for two points by DL CHRIS JANEK to make the score 58-55.
On the next possession, Germaine connected with Burley for the fourth and final touchdown to seal the victory. Germaine finished the game by completing 27-of-32 passes for 289 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Blaze return home to the EnergySolutions Arena to face JOHN ELWAY's Colorado Crush on Monday, June 4 at 8:30 p.m. The game with be broadcast on espn2 and will be the Blaze's first nationally broadcast game. The game can also be heard on 1280 The Zone with KEVIN GRAHAM and TOM GOODHINES calling the action.