SAN JOSE -- The dominance of the SaberCats' defensive line made one of the AFL's top scoring offenses look mighty unimpressive Saturday night.
Terrance Carter, Jason Stewart, and Luis Vasquez combined for six sacks and two fumble recoveries -- one of which Vasquez returned for a touchdown -- in the SaberCats' 70-35 win over the Orlando Predators before 8,132 at SAP Center.
The SaberCats (5-3) have won three consecutive games after losing three straight. Their defense has led the way each time, holding opponents to 35 points or less, a low number by AFL standards.
"Our defense is getting better and better every week," SaberCats coach Darren Arbet said. "Our offense has had a lot of moving pieces (due to injuries and other factors), so our defense has to play the way it's been playing for us to win right now."
San Jose's defense set the tone early against the Predators (5-3), forcing three first-quarter turnovers that led to SaberCats touchdowns.
Vasquez scored the first of those TDs before San Jose's offense even took the field. After Predators quarterback Jason Boltus fumbled a snap inside his 20-yard line on the opening drive, Vasquez raced into the backfield, scooped up the ball at the 8 and ran it into the end zone.
"The ball kicked out, and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time," Vasquez said.
San Jose began each of its first two drives in Orlando territory thanks to turnovers. An interception by defensive back Kenny Okoro set up a three-play, 20-yard scoring drive that quarterback Russ Michna capped with a 1-yard TD run. Carter's fumble recovery at the Predators' 17 set up a four-play drive that ended with Dominique Curry's 4-yard touchdown reception.
Orlando rallied to within six points in the second quarter, but San Jose responded in the period's final minute with Curry scoring twice in a four-second span. After catching an 11-yard TD pass from Michna with 35 seconds to go before the half, Curry stripped the ball from Orlando's Tanner Varner, who had fielded the ensuing kickoff off the net. Curry then ran the ball in from 2 yards out to give San Jose a 49-29 lead.
As if to punctuate their defensive effort with an exclamation point, the SaberCats held the Predators to one second-half touchdown.
"We smelled blood in the water in the third quarter when they started to get their heads down, and we never let our foot off the pedal," Vasquez said.
Portland (2-5) at SaberCats (5-3) 7 p.m., ESPNNEWS