Tonight two teams took the field at the Tampa Bay Times Forum that, on paper, where evenly match and that is exactly how the game went.
It could have been predicted that it would come down to the last play tonight between the Tampa Bay Storm and Chicago Rush, and that it did.
In the fourth quarter the Storm defense held strong and forced a turnover with an interception by defensive lineman Tremaine Johnson. The Storm would then take a 49-42 lead with 4:28 remaining in the game on a Michael Lindsey touchdown grab.
But Chicago would not go down quietly and drove the ball down the field to the one yard line with under a minute left.
The Rush implemented a strategy that would force the Storm to use all of its timeouts, setting up a fourth and goal from the one with two seconds left.
Rush quarterback Carson Coffman would push his way into the endzone leaving the Rush down by one with a decision to make; go for the win or play for overtime.
The Rush decided to go for two-point conversion and the win, only after there was some confusion on the field, as Chicago’s coaching staff called a timeout that was not granted.
On the final play, Chicago threw a screen pass to star receiver Reggie Gray who was pinned against the boards at the three yard line, making it a difficult call for the officials to decide whether he was out of bounds or in for the score.
The referees decided in favor of Chicago, sending Tampa Bay into its bye week with a one-point loss and a three-game losing streak.
A bright spot for the Storm was quarterback Randy Hippeard, who made his first career start.
“I came out a little nervous,” Hippeard said, “but I settled down and I think we played well offensively.”
Hippeard played a phenomenal game, going 25-for-38, 305 yards and six touchdowns. He also added in a rushing touchdown as well.
Hippeard distributed the ball evenly to Lindsey, Joe Hills and Chris Davis, as Lindsey lead the team with nine catches, while Davis and Hills each hauled in eight, with each grabbing a pair of touchdowns.
Rodney Beamon was another standout player for the storm.
Center Brad Serini went down early in the game and Beamon, who usually plays linebacker, played both linebacker and fullback as normal fullback Jeff Tow-Arnett slid to center.
“I am pretty tired,” Beamon gasped, “but that is what the job calls for. We preach next man up and when Serini went down that was me. We stepped up as a team as well and that is what it is all about.”
Chicago was led by receiver Gray who did a little bit of everything.
Gray had eight catches, 115 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw a three-yard touchdown pass to Jared Jenkins who led the team in receiving with 10 catches and 120 yards.
Coffman threw for 258 yards on 21-for-32 passing, three touchdowns and one interception. He also had 14 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
With the loss, the Storm fell behind Jacksonville by two games in the South Division standings as Jacksonville claimed a two-point victory over Cleveland.
The Storm has a much needed bye week before it gets back on home turf July 6th against the Spokane Shock.
“This bye week is much needed,” stated Head Coach Dave Ewart.
Beamon seconded his coach, stating, “It is coming at such a crucial time because we need to get guys healthy and get re-focused.”