Jacksonville, FL – The Tampa Bay Storm (3-2, 1-2) were defeated by the Jacksonville Sharks (2-2, 1-1) Friday evening by a score of 60-41 in front of a crowd of 8,132 fans. The Storm is now 0-6 all-time at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Storm offense was slow to start, but it would pick up the pace in the second and third quarters. Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard completed 21-of-37 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target of the night was Justin Hilton. Hilton caught 11 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. The Storm offense also saw the return of wide receiver Joe Hills. He scored his first touchdown of the season in the third quarter, a 31-yard pass from Hippeard. Hills would finish the night with four receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Once again the defense was the story for Tampa Bay. The defensive line applied the pressure, knocking out Sharks quarterback Aaron Garcia mid-way through the first quarter. Storm newcomer Tommie Duhart forced a fumble and Rodney Beamon had the recovery. It was the third consecutive game that saw the team with a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Storm jack linebacker got in on the scoring action, picking off Sharks quarterback R.J. Archer and returning it 36 yards for the scorem cutting the Sharks lead to just five; but that is as close as the Storm would get.
The Sharks defense was true to form, holding the Tampa Bay to just 41 total points. The team allows just 44.7 points per game, good for third best in the conference. The Sharks had six sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. The turning point of the game came on a Sharks fumble return for a touchdown by Jacksonville defensive lineman Aaron Robbins. This score led the Sharks to a 14-point swing, shifting all of the momentum to the home team.
The Sharks offense was led by Archer. He completed 23 passes for 202 yards and five touchdowns. The Sharks leading receiver was London Crawford. He caught 10 receptions for 65 yards and three touchdowns.