Win Streak Snapped As Storm Fall Short Against Gladiators
Flashback to the last couple Tampa Bay Storm seasons. You won't find a contending team battling for postseason position as the regular season dwindles down. You won't find a determined team looking for something to prove every week. You won’t find a competitive team challenging the league’s best on the road. Heck, we even saw a crippled 7-9 Storm team somehow sneak into the playoffs before an epic, and embarrassing, collapse in the first round last year. It’s been a rough go for the Arena Football League’s most storied and winningiest franchise the last couple seasons, but this year's team is different. And even after a 48-41 loss to Cleveland on Friday night, the Storm deserves a lot of credit.
Down 0-13 at the end of the first quarter and 14-26 at halftime, the Tampa Bay Storm in any other season would pack it up. It’s over. Big deal. But not this season.
It was a second half resurgence for the Storm. QB Randy Hippeard threw for 2 TD’s and the Tampa Bay defense managed an important stop to tie the game at 27 before the Gladiators could even blink on the other side.
On the offensive side of the ball, Storm receiver Joe Hills caught three touchdown passes on 11 receptions for 122 yards and now has a touchdown reception in 32 consecutive games.
Defensively, Jean Fanor (DB) corralled his second interception of the season and linebacker Darian Payne recovered an all-important fumble that would lead to the Storm tying the game 27-27. Fanor also led the Storm in tackles in the game with 11.
The two teams would go back and forth the rest of the night, but a deadly turnover on one of the Storms final drive would prove costly in the eventual one score loss.
Yes, it would be whole lot sweeter for the Storm if the night ended in victory. And yes, it may seem funny to take so many positives out of a loss. However, it is extremely important to realize the resilience, grit and fight present in a Storm team that has been lacking those same traits for many years.
Nobody said the final stretch of this 2014 season for the Tampa Bay Storm would be easy. And looking at the schedule Tampa Bay faces the rest of the way, I highly doubt anyone gives the Storm a fighting chance at a division crown much less a postseason bid. But after the valiant effort in Cleveland, the now 8-7 Tampa Bay Storm will continue to fight and prove why fans should be proud of such an impressive turnaround.
Connor Akeman is a freelance sports writer and aspiring radio broadcaster who resides in Tampa, FL. A Tampa native, he considers himself emotionally invested in the Rays, Buccaneers, and Lightning by enjoying season tickets to all three teams. He has followed the Storm since the early Tim Marcum days and can remember attending his first ever Arena Football game in 2007. Studying Mass Communications/Journalism, Connor graduated from the University of South Florida in May 2017. He has spent time with RantSports.com and has been published by the Orange County Register in Anaheim, CA as well as other outlets. He currently contributes to TheDailyStampede.com of SB Nation. You can follow Connor on Twitter @ConnorAkeman.