TAMPA – Michael Lindsey’s record-setting night was spoiled by the Spokane Shock, as they defeated the Tampa Bay Storm 53-41 Saturday in front of a crowd of 9,448 at Amalie Motor Oil Field at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Lindsey entered the game just 34 yards shy of George LaFrance’s record mark of 5,116 return yards. Before the end of the first half, Lindsey surpassed LaFrance to become the new all-time leader.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Lindsey said. “This is really an honor. I work hard and when you work hard great things happen and I’m very thankful for whoever has been in front of me making blocks, I appreciate it a lot.”
Head coach Lawrence Samuels also did not hesitate to compliment Lindsey for his work ethic, calling him one of the “bright spots of the evening.”
“Mike comes to work every day,” Samuels said. “I’m proud of him. He does his job, knows his role and he does it well. It’s a credit to Mike.”
Despite the historic feat for Lindsey however, the rest of Tampa Bay faltered from the plan to play well in all three phases of their game (offense, defense and special teams) in the second half after doing just that in the first two quarters.
“In the second half we had some people not believing,” Samuels said. “Being a young team when things go badly for you, we need to dig deeper. As a coaching staff we’ll address that next week and get our team on the right foot.”
Tampa Bay’s third dropped decision in as many weeks is their longest losing streak since losing eight straight at the end of the 2013 season.
The Storm started the night by scoring on a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter that gave them a 13-7 edge against the Shock by the end of the first quarter. Quarterback Randy Hippeard threw the touchdown passes to T.T. Tolliver for his sixth touchdown in just his second game with Tampa Bay and Joe Hills, who now has a touchdown in 24 consecutive contests.
Spokane evened the score, 13-13, by 12:59 of the second, but the Storm re-gained the lead when Hippeard threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Lindsey. The Shock responded with a touchdown of its own, but missed the extra point to keep the Storm ahead by one.
Lindsey then factored in again for Tampa Bay on the ensuing kickoff when he ran for 13-yards to become the Storm’s new franchise leader for kickoff return yards.
Hippeard ended the half by throwing an interception to Spokane’s Bryant Nnabuife before time expired and the Shock carried the momentum over to the third, as they scored to open up the quarter and took a 33-27 lead less than three minutes into the start of the second half.
After going back-and-forth on the scoring front by the end of the game the Storm turned the ball over on downs, but their inability to score sealed their fate, as they were unable to produce any more offense for the rest of the game.
“We were going back-and-forth and we had the chance to go up right at the end of the half and I came up short with the pass,” Hippeard said. “In this game you have to score every time you touch the ball because it can be tough with the defense.”
UP NEXT – The Storm hope to turn the tide next Saturday when they host the Portland Thunder for Star Wars night on Saturday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay then exercises a bye week before heading to Philadelphia to face the Soul on May 17. Their next home game thereafter will be on Memorial Day weekend, as the Storm celebrates Military Appreciation Night on Saturday, May 24.