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Tampa Bay holds off Orlando 63-62 to advance to ArenaBowl

Saturday August 14, 2010

TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Storm held off the Orlando Predators Saturday night, 63-62, to win the American Conference championship and earn the right to meet the Spokane Shock next Friday night in ArenaBowl XXIII in Spokane.

Orlando overcame a 21- point deficit (49-28) from the near then end of the 3rd quarter and then took a 56-55 lead on a Nick Hill 4-yard pass intended for Bobby Sippio 1:26 left in the game. The pass deflected off the lower right bar and into the hands of T.T. Toliver, his 6th touchdown reception of the game.

Tampa Bay came right back as Brandon Hefflin recovered the Orlando on-side kick and Storm quarterback Brett Dietz threw a bullet to Tyrone Timmons for the score with 49.5 seconds remaining. Dietz then nailed a two-point coversion toss to Terrence Royal and the Storm led, 63-56.

Orlando had a short field on an on-side kickoff by the Storm and Hill connected with Toliver again for 12 yards and a score with 45.7 seconds left. Carlos Martinez' extra point to tie the game at 63 was backed up by two consecutive Predators' penalties. Martinez' 28-yard extra point kick hit the right upright and Tampa Bay dodged a tie.

Dietz threw an interception into the endzone and Orlando's last ditch 49-yard field goal attempt by Martinez fell under the bar as time ran out giving the Storm (13-5) its sixth trip to and ArenaBowl championship. The Storm has won five league championships.

Dietz finished the game connecting on 24 of 42 for 260 yards and seven scores and his Predator counterpart Hill was 21 of 35 for 265 yards and 9 touchdowns.

The Storm's DeAndrew Rubin caught 10 passes for 116 yards and two TDs and teammate Tyrone Timmons finished with six catches, three for touchdowns, and on a mere 37 yards. Hank Edwards had 5 grabs for 65 yards and one TD.

Royal scored a pair of touchdowns on runs.

The Preds Toliver ended with 11 catches and 165 yards and 7 scores. Bobby Sippio, who had been a factor in two of the last three games for Orlando, had 7 catches for 56 yards and two TDs.

Defense again was the difference as the Storm recovered two of three Preds' snaps from center and put pressure on Orlando all night.