Storm Grind Out Opening Night Win Over Division Rival VooDoo
On a night new head coach Lawrence Samuels called “overwhelming”, the Tampa Bay Storm were able to grind out a 62-57 win over their divisional rivals, the New Orleans VooDoo. Although the Storm led most of the game, turnovers plagued both teams early and kept the game close late. Storm wide receiver Justin Hilton, named the Offensive Player of the Game, hauled in four touchdowns for Tampa Bay, while QB Randy Hippeard threw for six touchdowns.
Hippeard was 18-of-27 for 288 yards and connected with Hilton on the Storm’s third offensive drive with a 24-yard pass and again later on for scores of 12, 42 and 33 yards.
While both Hilton and Hippeard led the way for the Storm offense, Tampa Bay was also ignited by several key defensive plays throughout the game.
A net recovery touchdown by newly acquired Storm defensive back Rod Issac gave the Storm a 13-7 lead at the very beginning of the second quarter. When asked about the score, Issac explained that because there is no way to simulate the play of the crossbar he is always instructed to simply “run hard down the field” on an ensuing kickoff.
A 42-yard fumble return by Storm defensive back Chris Smith midway through the fourth quarter opened up a ten-point lead for Tampa Bay and also added to the Storm’s impressive defensive play.
While the Storm begin the year 1-0 for the first time in three years, it will be vital for the team to carry over momentum into next week’s game against San Antonio Talons. Tampa Bay will look to avenge a 52-36 blowout loss last season to the Talons and improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2008.