It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The Stingrays traveled down state to face-off against their newest hated rival, the Orlando Rockets for the first time. For an expansion team, the Stingrays had what’s been called a pretty good outing, however, this expansion team believes that it can be a contender. “We’re better than this dude.” said veteran linebacker Clay Matthews; “We played a solid game for 3 1/2 quarters, it just slipped away from us at the end. We’ll re-group and be ready to go again next week against Mississippi.” Matthews only posted two tackles in what was a bit of a disappointing game, his biggest play of the night came when he got completely run over by Rocket RB Devonta Freeman late in the 4th quarter.
Aside from the late collapse, the Stingray defense played a tight game allowing only ten points through three quarters. Linebacker Kevin Minter was the standout on defensive side of the ball with two sacks, one coming for a safety. The offense was another story.
QB Matt Nichols was efficient and didn’t make too many mistakes, he threw an interception late in the 3rd quarter, but it wouldn’t prove to have an outcome on the game as Orlando followed with a five play drive that resulted in a punt. Though Nichols didn’t make too many mistakes, and passed for over 300 yards, he couldn’t find the end zone. “That Rocket secondary is tough.” said Nichols; “We had four trips into the red zone and they completely shut us down inside the twenty.” The Stingrays would settle for three Marc Orozco field goals.
The Stingray run game was absolutely dreadful as Orlando’s stout defensive line dominated the Jacksonville offensive line all night. Devin Singletary had 17 carries for 46 yards and couldn’t find the end zone.
“We’re going to put in a lot of work this week to prepare for Mississippi, we played Orlando well, they’re a great team and we hung in with them for 3 1/2 quarters. Hopefully if we work a little more on conditioning and fundamentals, that’ll give us an edge moving forward. It’s frustrating that we couldn’t score any points this week, we’ll get it figured out.” said coach Spurrier.
The win-less Mississippi Gators head to Jacksonville this week, despite a couple bad performances, the Gators are a dangerous team any time a signal caller like Vad Lee is under center.