Inconsistency on offense and too many big plays given up on defense brought the Tampa Bay Storm’s six-game win streak to an end in a 62-41 loss to the Philadelphia Soul at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Soul (9-0) have won 16-straight games dating back to last season, and the defending ArenaBowl champion won their second game in as meetings against the Storm this season.
The Storm enter their third of four bye weeks with a 7-2 record. Tampa Bay is 7-0 against Baltimore, Cleveland and Washington combined so far in 2017 but 0-2 versus Philadelphia.
Tampa Bay trailed 28-7 after Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh hit Darius Reynolds for his third touchdown catch of the game with 12:07 to go in the second quarter.
But the Storm battled back to close the half.
Randy Hippeard rifled a back shoulder toss to Joe Hills along the left boundary from eight yards out to make the deficit 28-14. On Philadelphia’s next drive, the Soul pushed the ball down to the one-yard line. Facing fourth down, Raudabaugh rolled right and threw back to the middle of the field, but the ball went through the hands of Keith Newell for the Storm’s first defensive stop of the game.
With a minute left in the half and the length of the field to drive, the Storm methodically worked the ball toward the opposite goal line, and with 11 seconds left, Hippeard floated a pass into the path of Hills for a 26-yard touchdown catch and run.
The Storm entered halftime trailing just 28-21 and with possession of the ball to start the second half, but Philadelphia (9-0) quickly ended Tampa Bay’s comeback attempt. The Storm went four-and-out on their opening drive, and the Soul punched the ball into the end zone three plays later, Mykel Benson’s rush initially ruled stopped short of the goal line but determined to be a touchdown upon review for a 34-21 Soul lead.
Tampa Bay answered, Hippeard tossing to Ings on a quick screen and Ings, sprung by a Michael Lindsey’s block, ran untouched 31 yards for a score to get the Storm within six points, but on the first play of Philadelphia’s next drive, Raudabaugh launched a 36-yard bomb to Reynolds to push the lead to 41-28.
The Storm went four-and-out again on their next drive, and Benson ran in from a yard out for his third rushing touchdown to put the game out of reach. Benson finished the game with four rushing touchdowns.
Philadelphia scored on nine of its 10 possessions, not including a meaningless drive at the end of the game. Reynolds scored a touchdown nearly every time he caught a pass for the Soul, finishing with five scores and 115 yards on six receptions.
Raudabaugh threw six touchdown passes on just 21 throws and completed 15 tosses overall.
Tampa Bay turned the ball over on two of its first three possessions to fall behind early. The Storm scored a touchdown on six of 11 possessions and had one fumble, one interception and three turnovers on down to end drives.
Hills hauled in a 13-yard touchdown pass from Hippeard on the Storm’s opening drive of the contest to extend his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown catch to 77, one shy of tying the Arena Football League record held by Damian Harrell (78). Hills caught four touchdown passes and 12 passes overall for 161 yards. He now has 27 touchdown receptions this season.
Hippeard completed 28-of-45 passes for 324 yards and six touchdowns.
Ings and Lindsey each had a touchdown reception for the Storm.
The Storm have the week off before returning home to AMALIE Arena for their fourth and final meeting this season with the Washington Valor on July 1. The Storm are 3-0 against the Valor in 2017.