TAMPA BAY, FL – Whatever momentum was gathered by the Storm after last week’s road victory over Portland was lost on Friday night. In a tale of two halves for the home team, Tampa Bay fell 36-27 to the San Jose SaberCats.
“I’m disappointed with the way we came out on offense,” said Storm head coach Lawrence Samuels. “We need to be more consistent. We just didn’t execute.”
The highlight of the night for the Storm came in the second quarter, when receiver T.T. Toliver picked up his 1,000th career reception. He became the 17th player in professional history and fourth AFL player to accomplish the feat. He ended the night with six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
“Right now I’m not really enjoying it,” said Toliver following the loss. “In actuality I’m just trying to win football games to help the Storm get back in the playoffs.”
The game was a defensive battle for the first two series before Odie Armstrong scored from one yard out to give San Jose a 7-0 lead.
Tampa Bay cut the deficit to 14-7 in the second, but that was the smallest deficit they faced for the rest of the night. Turnovers once again proved to be the team’s kryptonite as they turned the ball over four times, including three lost fumbles. The offensive line had a very shaky performance with Jason Boltus being sacked five times. Boltus appeared shaken up throughout the whole game, but stayed in to finish the night 21 of 39 for 260 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.
After a Nich Pertuit field goal extended the San Jose lead to 24-7 with two seconds left before the half, a Tampa Bay fumble turned into a safety to put them behind 26-7 at the break.
The Storm looked like a different team in the second half, outscoring the SaberCats 20-10 in a strong finish.
“We’re fighters,” said Samuels. “We’re going to keep fighting all the way to the end. The guys didn’t give up.”
The defense kept it close all night, but the slow start was too much to overcome as Tampa Bay dropped their second straight home game.
The Storm (1-2) will look to rebound next Friday night when they host the New Orleans VooDoo.