The Tampa Bay Storm (5-3, 2-1) takes on the Pittsburgh Power (2-5, 1-0) Saturday, May 18 at CONSOL Energy Center. Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM ET. This will be the third meeting between these two teams, with the Storm winning the latest matchup, 65-61, July 7, 2012.
The Power enters the game fresh off a victory over Eastern Division rival Philadelphia Soul. The team was led by new quarterback Steven Sheffield who completed 19-of-35 passes for 272 yards, six touchdowns and an interception. Sheffield stepped in for Jordan Jefferson who had a record of 1-5, and was completing 55.1 percent of his passes.
Power receivers PJ Berry and Mike Washington once again lead the receiving corps as the two have combined for 90 receptions, 1,004 yards, and 15 touchdowns. Berry can also get the job done on the net as he leads the team with 34 kick returns for 580 yards and two touchdowns. In three games versus the Storm, Berry has accumulated 546 all-purpose yards and nine touchdowns, including one on the ground and two on kickoff returns.
The Storm enters the game looking to rebound after a 30-point loss at the hands of the San Jose SaberCats. Last week quarterback Adrian McPherson threw an uncharacteristic two interceptions to bring his season total to three. McPherson will look to add to his league leading rushing touchdown total of 23. With one more rushing touchdown, McPherson will break the Storm single-season record for most rushing touchdowns. He is currently tied with Torrance Marshall, who set the mark at 23 in 2008.
Defensively, the Storm backfield ranks third in interceptions with 14. Leading the way is defensive back Chris Smith. Smith leads the team with 36.5 tackles, and six interceptions. His six interceptions have put him in a tie for the league lead with Spokane’s Paul Stephens. However, for the defense to fall in place it will have to start with the defensive line. When the team gets pressure on opposing quarterbacks the defense has an easier time forcing turnovers. The team’s sack leader is Demarcus “Tank” Tyler, who has four sacks from the nose guard position.
On the defensive side of the ball the Power is lead by Alvin Ray Jackson. Last season, with the VooDoo, Jackson wreaked havoc from the Jack linebacker position. He led the team with 14 interceptions and had 75 tackles on the year. This season Jackson has 34 tackles to go with an interception returned for a touchdown. His backfield teammate Sergio Gilliam is also having a stellar year. He leads the Power in interceptions with three, including one returned for a touchdown. He helped preserve last week’s win over the Soul with an interception in the final minute of the game.