Tampa Bay – Quarterback Bernard Morris threw for a pair of touchdowns in the final 1:50 as the Jacksonville Sharks (1-0) defeated the Tampa Bay Storm, 64-55, in the season-opening Arena Football League game on the Amalie Motor Oil field at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Saturday night.
First-time Storm quarterback Adrian McPherson, an AFL veteran, kept the Storm in the game and set a team-record 5 rushing touchdowns. All from one-yard out except for a dazzling 35 yard burst in the second quarter.
Michael Lindsey ran back a kickoff 55 yards with 2:31 left in the game to give the Storm (0-1) a 55-49 lead. The Sharks got the ball back with 1:48 remaining and scored on a Morris to Jeff Hughley pass. The ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Sharks and Morris went to work connecting with Jeron Harvey for 36 yards. This gave the Sharks a 62-55 lead with 44 seconds left. Morris ran in the final 2-point conversion.
The game was tied four times in the first half and the Storm took a 28-21 lead following the net recovery a little more than four minutes left in the second quarter. Storm lineman Rodney Beamon recovered the kickoff on the Jacksonville one yard line. From there McPherson went in from one yard out for his record-setting rushing 4th score of the game.
McPherson was 9 of 14 in that first half for 92 passing yards, but it was his five rushes, including a 35-yard scamper where he zigged and zagged out of trouble at the Jacksonville 17 yard line.
The Tampa Bay Storm will continue its homestand at the Tampa Bay Times Forum Saturday, March 30 against the Cleveland Gladiators. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM.