The Tampa Bay Storm came into tonight’s game against its rivals the Orlando Predators knowing turnovers would play a key role in the game’s outcome.
Unfortunately, even though each team turned the ball over twice, the Storm’s turnovers came at the most inopportune time.
Rashad Barksdale intercepted Predators quarterback Aaron Garcia in the end zone and returned it for what looked to be the game tying touchdown with under a minute left in the game.
However, the officials reviewed it and concluded Barksdale was pushed out of bounds at the Storm four yard line.
Two plays later, Adrian McPherson found receiver Jason Chery who had a big gain after dragging Orlando defenders deep into Predators territory. As Chery battled for extra yardage he coughed up the ball sealing up the 55-48 victory for Orlando.
Tampa Bay played hard and played with effort, but things never quite went the Storm’s way.
Whether it was bad breaks, unlucky turnovers or untimely penalties, the Storm could not get anything to go its way.
Both Storm turnovers, a fumble by Chery and a fumble by Joe Hills, happened when receivers were fighting for extra yards.
Penalties also played a key role as well.
Michael Lindsey was ejected for retaliation after being pinned down in the end zone by Orlando kick returner Dominic Jones. Jones did not receive any discipline on the play.
It looked as if the Lindsey ejection lit a fire under the Storm defense, who struggled to stop Orlando all night, as Vance Cuff intercepted Garcia on the next play, but it was called back due to pass interference.
On that same drive, the Predators would eat up almost six minutes off the clock and score on a one yard run by Wondell Rutledge.
Orlando featured a couple of former Storm players, and they were vital in the Predators victory.
Prechae Rodriquez, a premier player for the Storm last season, racked up 157 yards, 12 catches and five touch downs tonight, all game highs.
Rutledge, who formerly played defense for Tampa Bay, had two rushing touchdowns for Orlando tonight.
Garcia improved to 8-3 in his career against Tampa Bay tonight with 289 yards passing and six touchdowns.
The Orlando defense kept Adrian McPherson in the pocket and did not let him beat them with his legs as he did not register a rushing touchdown. McPherson did not have a bad game though, posting 314 yards through the air and seven touchdowns.
Hills led the team in receiving with 11 catches for 103 yards and three touchdowns, but it was not enough as the Storm fall to 7-5 on the season and 2-4 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tampa Bay, who is 5-1 on the road this season, will look to bounce back next week as the travel to New Orleans to take on the Voodoo.