TAMPA FL – As Mayweather and Pacquiao were gearing up for their big fight in Vegas, the Tampa Bay Storm hosted the Jacksonville Sharks for their first divisional battle of the season. A season-high 11,124 were in attendance at Amalie Arena for what many expected to be a tightly-contested rivalry game. However, the matchup turned out to be just the opposite as the Storm dominated on their way to a 63-28 victory.
“I’m so proud of this young team,” said head coach Lawrence Samuels. “They’re starting to gel and show some signs of being a pretty good team.”
The night did not start well for Tampa Bay as their first two drives ended with a turnover on downs and an interception, respectively. It didn’t help that the Sharks scored on their first play from scrimmage, a 40-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Grady to Tiger Jones.
Momentum then swung in Tampa Bay’s favor as they later tied the game at 14 with under five minutes left in the first half. On the ensuing kickoff, Rick-J Hill recovered a loose ball in the end zone to give the Storm a lead that they would never give up. Hill’s night came to an abrupt end on Jacksonville’s next drive as he and Sharks wide receiver Joe Hills engaged in a little boxing match of their own, though it ended with both players being ejected for throwing punches.
The Storm took a 28-14 lead into halftime and came out swinging harder in the second half. Two touchdowns in the third quarter pushed the team’s run to 35-0 before the Sharks ended it early in the fourth. After trailing 14-7 early, Tampa Bay outscored Jacksonville 56-14 the rest of the way.
The duo of Jason Boltus and T.T. Toliver was on fire tonight as Boltus finished the night with 240 passing yards and seven total touchdowns. He found Toliver nine times for 96 yards and four touchdowns.
In what was their most complete game of the season, Tampa Bay’s offense totaled just 224 yards of offense but put 63 points on the board. The defense continued their recent streak of success, forcing four turnovers on the night.
“We’re getting better and better each week,” said Samuels. “And it’s showing out there on the field.
The win, paired with an Orlando loss, pulled the Storm (3-3) into a first-place tie in the division as they head into a bye week. They next hit the turf on May 16 in Orlando against the Predators. The pivotal division matchup, the first of three between the two heated rivals, will be aired on CBS Sports Network. Kickoff is set for 7.