The Tampa Bay Storm used Joe Hills’ last-second touchdown catch to catapult past the Iowa Barnstormers 65-62 Saturday night, improving to 7-4 on the season.
After Pernell Phillips sacked Iowa quarterback J.J. Raterink for a safety to take a two-point lead late in the fourth quarter, the Storm squandered a chance to put the game away.
On fourth down, Adrian McPherson overshot an open Joe Hills that would have likely resulted in a touchdown and wrapped up another road victory for the Storm.
The Barnstormers took over on downs and three plays later Raterink gave Iowa a four-point lead on a one-yard touchdown sneak with 23 seconds left.
The Storm began its drive on its own 13 yard line and used two Chris Davis receptions and a catch from Michael Lindsey to reach the Iowa three yard line with less than a second remaining.
McPherson took the snap on what would be the last play of the game and calmly dumped the ball over the Iowa defense to a wide open Hills who made the catch as time expired securing the Storm win and the team improved to 5-1 on the road.
The late heroics by the Storm defense was key in tonight’s victory, especially since neither defense was really able to stop the opposing offense.
The offenses marched up and down the field during the first half scoring on each possession, except for the Storm, who was held out of the end zone on the last possession of the half because time expired.
The Barnstormers only defensive stop of the night came on the Storm’s second possession of the third quarter when McPherson was hit from behind and coughed up the football, resulting in an Iowa touchdown seven plays later. This would put the Barnstormers up by 14.
Tampa Bay would storm back.
McPherson redeemed himself on the following drive, taking it in for a three-yard rushing touchdown pulling his team within seven.
The Storm would then recover the onside kick and McPherson, again, ran it in for a two-yard touchdown to tie the game at 49.
The Storm signal-caller would rush for his third straight touchdown, six plays after Barnstormers receiver Marco Thomas reeled in his second touchdown catch of the night, to tie the game at 56.
Ultimately the Storm would own the last minute of the game with regards to big plays, including Phillips’ safety and Hills game-winning catch.
The receiving core of Hills, Davis and Lindsey led the way for the Storm tonight in the absence of Greg Ellingson, who signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL earlier this week.
Joe Hills led the team with 120 yards and three touchdowns to go along with eight receptions.
Chris Davis finished with a team-high 10 catches, accumulating 89 yards and two touchdowns after missing last week’s game due to injury.
Michael Lindsey added eight catches, 77 yards and a score.
Adrian McPherson went 26-for-39 for 286 yards and six touchdown passes. The quarterback also tacked on three rushing touchdowns, mounting his league-leading total to 29 touchdowns.
Marco Thomas and J.J. Raterink of the Barnstormers had great nights as well.
Thomas had a game-high 11 catches for 149 yards including four scores.
Raterink threw for 264 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 25 out of 34 passes.
The Storm returns to the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the “War on I-4” with the divisional opponent the Orlando Predators.
The Storm will look to improve on its home turf and stay in the division hunt as the team sits one game back of Jacksonville who was victorious tonight against the Pittsburgh Power.