The Tampa Bay Storm got back on the winning track Monday night to remain undefeated at home this season as it earned a 63-46 victory over the Kansas City Command in front of a crowd of 7,345 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
“It was a big win for us, it really was,” Storm head coach Dave Ewart said. “I liked how our guys stepped up and played at our level and to our capabilities instead of theirs.”
Quarterback Stephen Wasil led the attack, completing 18-of-27 passes for 225 yards and five touchdowns, helping the Storm take over first place in the South Division with an overall record of 4-3 on the season.
After recording just nine yards of total offense during the first quarter in which the Storm were held scoreless, Wasil threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran in for an additional score in the second quarter to overcome a slow start and take a 21-17 lead into the half.
Storm wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez emerged as Wasil’s primary target on the night, hauling in seven balls for 124 yards and four scores en route to winning Offensive Player Of The Game Honors.
Tampa Bay’s strong offensive performance, in combination with a solid defensive effort from Jack linebacker Lendy Holmes who recorded both an interception and a fumble recovery on the night, proved to be too much for Kansas City.
Command quarterback Matt Gutierrez completed 24-of-48 passes on the night for 229 yards and five touchdowns for Kansas City, but to no avail as his team fell to 0-6 on the year.
Syvelle Newton led the Command’s receiving corps with 13 catches for 99 yards and three scores. Kansas City also got a touchdown each from wideouts Bret Smith and Shay Hodge, while the Storm’s Chandler Williams chipped in offensively with one touchdown catch of his own and another score late in the game off a muffed kickoff return.
“He’s a good ball player on both sides and does a lot for us,” Ewart said of Williams. “He scores touchdowns, recovers touchdowns and I really can’t say enough good things about him.”
Following the half, the action again slowed as both teams combined for just 15 points in the third quarter.
With Kansas City trailing by just three points heading into the fourth quarter, the game remained close until midway through the frame, when Williams reeled in Wasil’s pass in the endzone to put the Storm up by 10, then increased the lead after recovering a botched return in the endzone on the ensuing kickoff.
The play was good enough to earn Highlight of the Game honors, but more importantly, swayed the momentum in the Storm’s favor, which allowed them to pull away.
Behind 49-32 late in the game, Kansas City refused to go quietly as Gutierrez and Wasil continued to exchange scores, but the Command couldn’t muster enough to complete what would have been a dramatic comeback.
“We came out kind of flat, but in the second half we found some energy in our step and that was the most important thing in getting this win tonight,” Williams said. “We made some big plays right when we needed them.”
Russell Athletics Offensive Player of the Game - TAM Prechae Rodriguez
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game - TAM Steve Octavien
JLS IronMan of the Game - KCY Rashad Barksdale
AFL Playmaker of the Game - TAM Chandler Williams
Cutters Catch of the Game - TAM Rod Mosley, interception in the third quarter.
Spalding Highlight of the Game - TAM Chandler Williams KO Return
National Guard MVP of the Game - TAM Chandler Williams