The fire the Storm has been waiting to see again came out in Saturday's game against the Philadelphia Soul. But it wasn’t quite enough to seal the deal as failing to minimize the little mistakes led to a 56-51 loss at Amalie Arena.
Philadelphia (12-2) was first to score in the first quarter after the Storm (1-13) turned the ball over in its first drive. It wasn’t long after, however, that receiver Prechae Rodriguez caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jason Boltus to tie the game.
A hard hit to Boltus in the final minute of the first forced him to miss the remainder of the game. Backup Adam Kennedy stepped in Boltus’ place and had a career game, throwing for 241 yards and five touchdowns.
The Soul outscored the Storm 21-12 in the second quarter. A touchdown for the Soul, followed by a Ryan McDaniel onside kick recovery, allowed them to jump ahead by two scores. The Storm didn’t go away quietly, though, as Kendrick Ings and Rodriguez both added touchdowns to make it 28-19 at the half.
Impressive defense by Cameron McGlenn and an interception by Cortez Stubbs stopped the Soul offense from scoring at the start of the third.
Storm receiver T.T. Toliver soon scored off of a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kennedy to bring his team within three. Ings, and his lightning speed, finished the quarter by adding two more scores to give Tampa Bay a 37-35 lead going into the fourth quarter.
But it wouldn’t last.
An interception by Philadelphia’s Dawyne Hollis allowed the Soul to take the lead for good in the fourth, scoring on all their drives in the final quarter of the game.
Kennedy ended the night completing 17-of-26 pass attempts. He also added 22 yards on the ground. Ings caught one pass for a 40-yard score and returned a kickoff 57 yards for another TD.
Toliver led the team with a game-high of 12 catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns. Philadelphia was led by quarterback Dan Raudabaugh, who passed for six touchdowns and 238 yards on 21-of-34 passing.
While the Storm didn’t quite get the job done, coach Lawrence Samuels said he saw several positives.
“Our guys are still motivated and competing. We just have to come together at the right time, and I think tonight we turned a corner,” he said. “We started getting back to where we were when we had that stretch against Orlando and Cleveland and then winning against Arizona.
“Now we just have a few little mistakes to correct, and I feel good about it.”
The Storm will look to take those positives and turn them into a victory in their final home game of the regular season against the Portland Steel next Saturday, which is Fan Appreciation NIght. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.