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Storm Push Winning Streak To Three After Road Win Over Valor

Connor Akeman
Sunday May 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - With a 41-33 victory over the Washington Valor on Saturday night, the Tampa Bay Storm improved to 4-1 for the first time in nearly two decades and have now won three consecutive games for the first time since the 2014 season.

Soak it all in Storm fans; because this has been quite the remarkable turnaround.

At Week 6 this same time last year, the Storm suffered one of their worst defeats in franchise history, a 47-17 loss at home to the Philadelphia Soul. Heads were sunk and questions were looming. The Storm dropped to 0-5 that night and of course would go on to finish the regular season with a 2-14 mark.

A year later, the Storm find themselves 4-1 at the quarter point and quite simply, winning every kind of game they lost last season. The final possession, late game-winning drive kind of game, the clock strategy, back-and-forth scoring kind of game, and even the kind of game where you need just a little bit of luck. Something Tampa Bay did not get much of in 2016.

Maybe the most important difference? Avoiding the blowout. In 14 regular season games played in 2016, the Storm lost EIGHT games by 20 or more points.

This year? Everything seems different. Maybe it’s the new coaching staff. Maybe it’s the new names on the roster. It’s probably a combination of both. And it’s working.

On Saturday night, the Storm, on a short week of preparation and travel, used a Paul Stephens fumble recovery with just 37.1 seconds left in regulation to secure the eight-point win over the Valor.

Stephens also had two fumble recoveries in the Storm’s victory over the Baltimore Brigade last week, returning one for a touchdown in a crucial moment to pick-up that victory. Stephens has been a key piece in the Storm defensive effort and has proven to be an extremely valuable mid-season acquisition from just 12 days ago.

Tampa Bay was once again led by quarterback Randy Hippeard who finished the night completing 20-of-31 passes for 205 yards and five touchdowns. He would also rush 11 times for 23 yards and a touchdown.

Hippeard’s number-one target of the night was again WR Joe Hills who caught nine passes for 85 yards and three touchdowns. Hills now has a receiving touchdown in 73 consecutive regular season games.

Saturday night marked the first-ever meeting between the two franchises, and they will meet again in just a few short days. The season series will shift to Amalie Arena this weekend where the Storm will look to make it a four in a row and continue to cement themselves atop the AFL Standings.

A quick reminder that the top two teams in the league this season are awarded a home playoff game and a win on Saturday for the Storm could certainly put the team in prime position for just that.

A Tampa Bay Storm home playoff game? Something that hasn’t been done since 2010. And a sentence that I have never typed.

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 and has been published by the Orange County Register in Anaheim, CA as well as other outlets. He currently contributes to of SB Nation. You can follow Connor on Twitter @ConnorAkeman.
The opinions expressed in the article above are only those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts, opinions, or official stance of ArenaFan Online or its staff, or the Arena Football League, or any AFL or af2 teams.
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