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Storm Win Thriller Over Brigade In First Ever Meeting

Connor Akeman
Sunday May 7, 2017

BALTIMORE - What a difference a year makes. With a thrilling 62-55 win over the Baltimore Brigade on Sunday afternoon, the Tampa Bay Storm is 3-1  and on a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2014. The Storm was 0-4 at this time last season and has already surpassed their entire win total from a year ago. Which was two, I begrudgingly remind you.

Storm WR LaMark Brown caught the game-winning touchdown with just five seconds remaining in regulation, stunning the nearly 6,000 fans at Royal Farms Arena most of which were taking in their first ever Arena Football League contest. The score marked the second straight game in which Tampa Bay quarterback Randy Hippeard led the Storm
on a last-minute drive to steal a victory.
“It’s just one of the plays we call where we try to single up Joe (Hills) on the front side and then on the back side it’s a high-low read,” LaMark Brown said of the winning play. “If the guy comes up and presses me, I’ll stay on the wall and Kendrick (Ings) can go up which is what happens normally. If they play off, I can go ahead and take that throw because they’ll probably run up on Kendrick.”
Hippeard finished the game completing 31-of-40 passes for 285 yards and eight touchdowns. The 31 completions by Hippeard was tied for 7th most in a game in Storm history. Hippeard’s number one target though in the game was WR Joe Hills who caught 13 passes for 126 yards and four touchdowns. Hills now has a touchdown reception in 72 consecutive regular season games and 27 career games with over 10 receptions. A  big reason for the turnaround in both Randy Hippeard and the overall team’s play.
Of course, it didn’t have to come down to the final seconds. Tampa Bay led the majority of the game by double digits including a 34-20 lead at halftime. But like the Storm seemingly enjoy doing, a bad third quarter where Baltimore outscored Tampa Bay 21-7 and a few misplays on kickoffs, the Brigade were allowed right back in the game.
Baltimore took a one-point lead with less than a minute to play when QB Shane Carden hit WR Paul Browning in the end zone. The go-ahead touchdown would not have been possible without a fourth and three conversion allowed by the Storm defense minutes earlier.  
On the Storm’s final drive, trailing by one, a quarterback sneak and a kneel down took the clock to 7.9 seconds. Hippeard was able to stay calm in the pocket and wait for Brown to become wide open in the back of the end zone and connected on the game-winning touchdown pass as time expired yet again.
This is fun.
The Storm will now prepare on a short week as they return to action on Saturday night in D.C against another expansion foe, the Washington Valor.

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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