TAMPA, FL – After last week’s 67-34 loss to Jacksonville, Storm head coach Lawrence Samuels talked about an evaluation process of his roster. A week later, the evaluation looks to have failed as Tampa Bay (1-10, 0-5) was blown out again, losing to the Los Angeles KISS (5-6, 3-2) by a score of 54-27 in front of 9,670 at Amalie Arena.
“It’s really tough because we scored first possession and I’m feeling good about our team and our chances,” Samuels said. “Then, we didn’t score anymore. It just snowballed on us and things went bad and it’s like a scratched record; I’m saying the same thing over and over again.”
The KISS took an early lead on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Pete Thomas to Donovan Morgan, but the Storm answered with a 16-yard rushing touchdown by Jason Boltus. The 7-6 Los Angeles lead was the smallest of the night, with the KISS scoring 33 unanswered points to end the half. Of the five first half possessions for the Storm, three ended with a Boltus turnover and another ended with a turnover on downs.
“Simple mistakes,” Samuels said. “Every week, it’s mistakes with us. When we make mistakes, they’re glaring and they happen at a rapid pace. We’ve got to find a way to narrow those mistakes down moving forward.”
T.T. Toliver, who entered the game needing five catches to pass hall of famer Damian Harrell for most in Arena Football history, caught six catches for 91 yards to bring his career reception total to 1,166. His record-breaking catch was a 22-yarder in the fourth quarter, coming right before a Boltus touchdown pass to Mike Washington that cut the deficit to 54-20.
“[T.T.] is our inspirational leader; what more can you say?… I had that record once,” Samuels said with a laugh. “But, he’s special to me personally and he’s special to this organization. He continues to fight and play hard.”
Tampa Bay added another late touchdown when Boltus connected with Washington again with two seconds left in the game. Boltus completed 16 of 29 attempts on the night for 173 yards and three touchdowns, but threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball once. Washington caught five passes for 53 yards and two touchdowns.
It won’t get any easier for the Storm next week as they head to Orlando for a matchup with the Predators (10-2, 4-2) on Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:30.