SPOKANE, Wash. – The Tampa Bay Storm went into Monday’s matchup versus the Spokane Shock controlling their own destiny, but ended the night on the outside looking in to the AFL playoff picture by giving up their third straight contest 55-52.
It was the Storm’s second loss to the Shock this season, as they fall to below .500 with a 8-9 record.
The Storm knew the task at hand was going to be difficult with their second straight road game versus a tough Pacific Division, but began the contest on a strong note by converting on back-to-back drives.
The first came on a 1-yard rush from quarterback Randy Hippeard, which was his sixth consecutive contest with a rushing touchdown. Amarri Jackson then followed up with an 8-yard reception from Hippeard.
However the Shock also converted on their first two possessions of the game, as Spokane quarterback Erik Meyer completed touchdown passes to Adron Tennell and Mike Washington to keep the score locked at 14-14 early in the second.
Yet with playoff implications on the line, Tampa Bay continued to play with desperation and in turn momentum slowly swayed in their direction.
Byron Isom’s 3-yard rush with less than nine minutes to go in the second kept the Storm on top 21-14 and while Spokane returned the favor, Shock kicker Taylor Rowan missed an extra point attempt, to further help the Storm and keep them ahead by one point.
Hippeard added his second rushing touchdown and the defense then did their part by intercepting Meyer. The interception led to Tampa Bay kicker Juan Bongarra adding a field goal for the Storm before time ran out in the first half to give them a 31-20 lead.
Tampa Bay’s desperation slowly slipped out of their grasp in the second half however, as the Shock rebounded and took their first lead of the night.
Terrance Sanders started the late push for Spokane with a 57-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Joe Hills responded with an AFL record 34th straight game with a touchdown, yet the Shock scored and then picked off Hippeard to score and take a three-point lead.
Hippeard was noticeably shaken up after being tackled and it showed in his next two possessions with the Storm suddenly struggling to put points on the board. Spokane on the other hand continued to increase their lead to 55-45.
The Storm cut the deficit to 55-52 with 44 seconds to play when Hills caught his second touchdown of the evening. Tampa Bay then attempted the onside kick, but came up unsuccessful, leaving the ball deep in Storm territory where Spokane eventually took a knee and solidified the victory.
UP NEXT – With the dropped decision, Tampa Bay must win their season finale versus the Cleveland Gladiators this Saturday at AMALIE Motor Oil Field at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. They will also be looking to the Pittsburgh Power to defeat the Philadelphia Soul, as the Storm hold the tiebreaker. If both of these occur the Storm will clinch a postseason berth in the 2014 playoffs. July 26 is "Fan Appreciation Night." Somebody Cares Tampa Bay will also be on site for a backpack drive where they will collect backpacks and distribute them to needy students for the upcoming school year. Fans can make a $15 donation and sponsor a child by contacting Somebody Cares Tampa Bay at (727) 536-2273.