Storm Defeat Valor For Fourth Straight Victory And Best Start Since 2001
TAMPABAY, FL - If the headline seems familiar, you can thank the Tampa Bay Storm for yet another resilient, last-minute comeback victory on Saturday night this time at home against the Washington Valor.
“We’ve got a tough team,” Storm head coach Ron James said after the 53-47 victory. “They win every different way you can pick, and they understand the situations well.”
With the second win over the Valor in as many weeks, the Storm improved to 5-1 on the season and push the winning streak to four. It is the best start to a season for Tampa Bay since 2001, when the team won seven straight to begin the year.
Seemingly always with the flare for the last-second dramatics in 2017, Storm WR Joe Hills caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Randy Hippeard with just 3.4 seconds left in regulation to secure another Storm win. Hills, voted MVP of the game, recorded 11 catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns. He was also able to extend his consecutive regular season game streak with at least one touchdown reception to 74.
“(Randy) Hippeard has the one-minute drill down pat,” Hills said after the game. “I don’t really know what they taught him in Orlando or wherever he comes from. He’s definitely on top of the game when it comes to that one-minute drill.”
Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard continues to shine in his second stint with the Storm. Hippeard finished Saturday night 19-of-31 for 233 yards and seven touchdowns. For the season, Hippeard has thrown 39 touchdowns to just two interceptions and his 176 straight passes without an interception is the longest such streak in the Arena Football League.
Tampa Bay trailed at the half for a change, 26-20. On the first play of the second half however, Storm WR and special teams guru Michael Lindsey came up from behind to pop the ball loose from Washington return man, and former Storm player, Cameron McGlenn on the opening kickoff. Storm kicker Mark Lewis scooped the ball up and recovered a crucial turnover for Tampa Bay.
Just three plays later, Hippeard found WR Kendrick Ings in the end zone for a five-yard touchdown to tie the score 26-26.
“The fumble recovery was enormous but also because Lindsey throughout the game brings such great energy and makes a lot of plays on special teams and at the end of the game had to play both ways,” Storm head coach Ron James said. “…We gave him the game ball. It’s easy to see that he was a difference maker for us.”
Later in the game, Bernard Morris would replace an injured Valor QB Erik Meyer and lead Washington on a game-tying drive late but left 37 seconds on the clock for the Storm to do what this 2017 Storm team does.
Score and win.
Tampa Bay now goes on its second bye week of the season before returning to Amalie Arena on June 3rd to face the Baltimore Brigade for the second of three meetings.