Starting quarterback Nick Hill sustained an injury that led to an early exit, but Stephen Wasil took over and completed 16-of-24 passes for 162 yards and five touchdowns as he led the Tampa Bay Storm to their first road victory of the season on Saturday night, a 65-61 win over the Pittsburgh Power at the CONSOL Energy Center.
The victory helped the Storm snap a season-high four-game losing streak and improve to 7-9 on the season, but more importantly, kept the team alive in the playoff race, while Pittsburgh dropped to 4-12 on the year.
Hill completed 10 of his 14 attempts on the night, and passed for 85 yards and two touchdowns before suffering an ankle injury in the second quarter. He did not return, but a solid outing by Wasil proved good enough to lead the Storm to a win.
The combination of Hill and Wasil was countered by Pittsburgh signal caller Andrico Hines, who connected on 28-of -40 throws for 310 yards and seven scores.
Hines nearly engineered a comeback for the Power in the game’s final minute, but the Storm defense held strong, forcing Hines to throw incompletions on the final three plays of the game to escape with a win.
Saturday’s contest saw a welcomed return from Tampa Bay receiver Prechae Rodriguez, who finished the night with one touchdown reception on four catches for 33 yards. It was teammate Joe Hills, however, who for a second consecutive week, emerged as the top playmaker for the Storm after he led the team, and all receivers for that matter, with 13 receptions for 160 yards, good for four scores.
Michael Lindsey also chipped in a pair of receiving touchdowns on the night, one less than Pittsburgh’s Mike Washington who concluded the game with 10 catches for 126 yards as the Power’s leading receiver. His teammate PJ Berry had a big game as well, reeling in two scores through the air and cashing in another on the ground for a total of three on the night.
The game, for the most part, was back and forth all night long, with neither team leading by more than 10 points at any juncture of the contest. Even when the Storm did find themselves down, however, the team’s defense came up with key plays that shifted the momentum back on the side of the visiting squad.
Perhaps none were bigger than a pair of third-quarter interceptions, first by Vance Cuff and another by Lendy Holmes, each of which occurred when the Storm were down by three points, that both led to touchdowns to put Tampa Bay back in front.
Pittsburgh had its fair share of interceptions too, but those were met with some lucky breaks for the Storm, as two separate picks were called back due to Power penalties.
The teams then continued to trade scores in the fourth quarter until Wasil, following an on-side kick recovery by Hills, rushed into the endzone for a 65-61 lead. He still left 36 seconds on the clock, however, that led to the Power’s last-ditch comeback effort which fortunately for the Storm, fell just short.