The Tampa Bay Storm had little difficulty getting back on the winning track Saturday night.
Following a road defeat exactly one week ago in San Jose, the Storm put forth a dominant performance and rebounded with a 62-34 victory over the Pittsburgh Power at the CONSOL Energy Center.
For Tampa Bay, the win was helped along by an impressive performance by signal caller Adrian McPherson, as well as a stellar defensive display that saw Tampa Bay record five turnovers on the night.
The victory also vaulted Tampa Bay to 6-3 on the season, while Pittsburgh fell to 2-6. The Storm potentially could leap into a first-place tie with the in-state rival Jacksonville Sharks for first place in the South Division, pending the outcome of the Sharks’ contest against the Orlando Predators, also in progress Saturday night.
McPherson was nearly perfect on the night, completing 20 of 22 throws, good for 240 yards and six scores through the air. McPherson also proved to be a threat on the ground with his legs, totaling 29 yards on four carries and one touchdown, which helped the Tampa Bay quarterback set a Storm single-season record for most rushing scores in a season with 24.
Late in the game, Randy Hippeard came in to replace McPherson, who was given a rest, and connected on what proved to be the Storm’s final offensive touchdown of the game.
Greg Ellingson emerged on three of McPherson’s six passing touchdowns on the evening, as he led the team with 10 receptions in total and 96 yards. Despite missing some time due to his attendance at NFL minicamp, Joe Hills proved to be a welcomed return for the Storm and caught a touchdown pass as well, matching that of teammate Jason Chery. Michael Lindsey’s output, meanwhile, was twice that, as he finished with a pair of scores on the night.
McPherson and his trio of receivers helped the Storm get off to a fast start, which ultimately proved to be the difference.
A low-scoring first quarter produced a score of just 14-7 in favor of the visitors, but by the conclusion of the first half, Tampa Bay had already put up 35 points as opposed to Pittsburgh’s 21.
The Storm’s contributions on defense also helped keep the momentum generated on the other side of the ball, on offense, in Tampa Bay’s favor throughout the game.
De’Audra Dix finished the night with two interceptions, while Chris Smith and James Harrell recorded one pick each. LeRoy Burgess also got in on the action, registering a fumble.
The performance on both sides of the ball seemingly was too much for the Power to handle.
Pittsburgh succeeded in keeping the game close through each of the first two quarters, but ultimately began to falter starting in the third, when it fell behind 48-21 with just one period to play.
Tampa Bay sustained pressure on Pittsburgh quarterback Steven Sheffield, who connected on only 23 of 44 passes for 276 yards and just three touchdowns.
He also added one rushing touchdown, as did teammate Kirby Griffin.
Alvin Ray Jackson hauled in seven receptions, matching a team-best held also by teammates Mike Washington and Shamar Graves, with two of those catches coming for scores.
After struggling offensively throughout the majority of the game, Pittsburgh managed to score on the game’s final possession, but even at that, the deficit was still too great to begin with, as the Storm came out on top following 60 minutes of action.