Looking to extend their current winning streak to four games, the Tampa Bay Storm couldn’t duplicate its performance from each of the past three weeks on Friday night, as the team fell to the San Jose SaberCats by a 64-34 score at HP Pavilion.
After winning four of its previous five games, the loss dropped Tampa Bay to 5-3 on the year. The Storm will now have to wait until tomorrow night and hope that Jacksonville loses to San Antonio in order to remain just one game behind the division-rival Sharks in the South Division race.
San Jose, meanwhile, improved to 5-2 on the season.
On Friday, Tampa Bay fell victim to a slow start, which may have been expected seeing that the team arrived in San Jose in the early hours of the morning following a cross-country flight, and had little time to rest before the opening kickoff.
In a rare instance, the Storm failed to score on their first offensive series of the game, but led by quarterback Adrian McPherson, came back from a two-score deficit to make the score 14-7 following the first quarter, heading into the second.
McPherson went 13-for-29 passing on the evening, connecting for a pair of touchdown passes and 166 yards through the air. He added two more rushing touchdowns on the ground, but also was intercepted twice for just the first time this season. He was relieved by backup signal caller Randy Hippeard in the fourth quarter.
Still, McPherson could not shoulder the blame for the loss, as he turned in a solid performance and even set a new Arena Football League record.
In the third quarter, McPherson rushed for his 23rd touchdown of the season, surpassing Ryan Vena to become the league’s all-time leader for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season.
It was one, if not the brightest, highlight of the night for Tampa Bay, which despite being down 35-21 at the half, seemed to have momentum, as the Storm were set to receive to start the second half.
Unfortunately, McPherson was picked off by Ken Fontenette, his first of two on the night, and the swing shifted back to San Jose, who was led by passer Russ Michna.
Michna connected on 16 of his 23 attempts on the night and hooked up for five scores on 182 yards passing.
Former Storm receiver Huey Whittaker emerged as the SaberCats’ primary playmaker on the night, hauling in seven balls for 84 yards and a score.
His touchdown output was doubled only by two of his teammates, Fred Williams and Jason Willis, who had two each.