TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Storm continue to move closer to a complete game after adding an early offensive attack to its already potent defense for a 63-49 victory in front of 11,102 fans at AMALIE Motor Oil Field at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
“To come off a game where all we had to do was close it last week, everyone was bitter,” quarterback Randy Hippeard said. “So to be able to come out and start fast, execute and put up points early tonight was great.”
Hippeard ended the game going 22-for-35 with 276 yards and seven touchdowns in his third win of the campaign.
The Storm began the attack by recording back-to-back touchdowns to start the game ahead 14-0 for the first time this season.
“The team scored on every possession in the first half,” Samuels said. “The name of the game in arena football is offense and that was big for us and helped us dominate the rest of the game.”
The first of the pair came from rookie wide receiver Samuel Tranks, who scored the Storm’s first touchdown in his first game on the opening drive.
“It was good to score on the first drive for the first time this season,” Samuels said. “I’m happy for Tranks to go and take it in for the touchdown.”
Dexter Jackson had the second touchdown reception.
Philadelphia finally answered 41 seconds into the second quarter to cut the lead to 14-7. However the two teams exchanged five more touchdowns thereafter for a 35-21 score in favor of Tampa Bay at the half. Chris Smith’s kick-off return and Justin Hilton and Amarri Jackson’s receptions contributed seven points apiece for the Storm.
“We’re all new to each other, so we’re all learning as we go,” Hippeard said. “But I think everyone is getting on the same page and we’re all reading the defense together. Once the receivers and the quarterback start to read the defense together things can click like it did tonight.”
To start the second half, Soul quarterback Dan Raudbaugh again helped Philadelphia to scoring the first points of the third to bring the team within a touchdown, but the Storm responded by adding three of their own for a 56-28 lead with less than 11 minutes remaining in the contest.
The second of the three came off of the Soul’s desperation. On 4th-and-10, Philadelphia tried to convert, but Raudbaugh’s pass was no good as the Storm took over in Soul territory. Two plays later Hippeard completed a 17-yard pass to Hilton.
“Our defense put us in a position tonight where we could not only get comfortable, but put the pressure back on them,” Samuels said.
With less than five minutes remaining Hippeard threw his first interception of the game to the Soul’s Joe Goosby for a 56-35 game.
Michael Lindsey added the final touchdown of the night for the Storm with a 7-yard rush and the Soul threatened in the final minutes of play with two straight scores, but the deficit was too much for Philadelphia to overcome, as they fell to 0-3 on the season.
UP NEXT – Next week the Storm will head north to take on the Jacksonville Sharks in a South Division battle on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The Storm are 1-8 all-time versus the Sharks and fell 69-62 in their first-ever postseason meeting last game in Jacksonville during the 2013 playoffs. With another contest away from the Times Forum on April 19, the Storm does not return home until Saturday, April 26 versus the Spokane Shock.