The Tampa Bay Storm’s road woes continued on Saturday night as the team dropped a tough divisional game to the Georgia Force 44-41 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
Tampa Bay put forth a valiant effort, coming back from 14 points in the fourth quarter, but came up just short as the Force recovered an onside kick attempt in the game’s final minute and ran the clock out in their final offensive series.
The loss by the Storm allowed Georgia to improve to 5-4 on the season, matching that of Tampa Bay’s to vault into a first-place tie atop the South Division.
Storm signal caller Stephen Wasil completed 21-of-34 passes for 260 yards and six touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions as the offense seemed to sputter to start the game.
Prechae Rodriguez and Amarri Jackson emerged as Wasil’s leading receivers on the night, as both continued their exceptional play on the season.
Rodriguez led the team with 10 catches for 142 yards and also had two scores, while Jackson recorded a team-best three touchdowns on five receptions for 66 yards. Chandler Williams also had a touchdown for Tampa Bay on the night.
The tandem of Wasil and Rodriguez opened the game’s scoring to get the Storm out to a fast start and quick lead, but were quickly overshadowed by the performance of Georgia quarterback Kevin Eakin and some efficient special teams play by kicker Carlos Martinez.
Eakin finished the night by going 19-for-30 for 178 yards and three touchdowns. He found receiver Jake Allen once on the night and Larry Shipp just twice through the air, while the Force also utilized an efficient run game that also accounted for two scores.
Allen led Georgia with nine receptions and 71 yards and Shipp contributed six catches and 65 yards.
Both Allen and Shipp had touchdown receptions in the first half to complement a Martinez field goal that gave Georgia a 24-14 lead at halftime.
Jackson’s first of three touchdown catches on the night brought Tampa Bay to within just seven points to start the fourth quarter, but Eakin pulled Georgia back ahead by two scores and by as much as 41-27 at one point.
While the Force managed to get just a single field goal after that, the Storm scored two touchdowns to come within three points as the clock approached the one-minute mark, but a last-ditch effort with an onside kick was recovered by Georgia, snapping the Storm’s two-game win streak.