TAMPA, FL – Missed opportunities have plagued the Storm (1-13) all season long. Saturday afternoon was no different, as Tampa Bay fell to the Philadelphia Soul (12-3) by a score of 56-51 in front of 8,406 at Amalie Arena. The loss was the Storm’s sixth straight.
“We’re still making some silly mistakes,” Storm head coach Lawrence Samuels said. “[Philadelphia] is one of the best teams in this league. Our guys are still motivated and still competing.”
Though there were missed chances all night long, the biggest was the inability of the Storm to take advantage of its best defensive game of the season and, possibly, Philadelphia’s worst offensive game.
With the game tied 7-7 in the second, the Storm defense came up with a fumble recovery close to its own goal line. On the next possession, Boltus left the game with an upper body injury after a horse-collar tackle before the Storm failed to convert the turnover into points. Raudabaugh and company then scored on back-to-back possessions with an onside kick mixed in to give the Soul a 21-7 lead with 5:32 left in the first half.
Each time Tampa Bay tried to answer, the Soul followed with a response. Backup quarterback Adam Kennedy found Kendrick Ings for a 40-yard touchdown, only to be answered by a 21-yard touchdown pass from Raudabaugh to Chris Duvalt. Kennedy then hit Rodriguez for a 45-yard score.
James Harrell came up with an interception late in the first half for the defense’s second turnover, but the Storm again failed to convert it into points.
“[The defense] paid attention to the coaching. They got some stops,” Samuels said.
The defense ended up with four stops, but four wasn’t enough to come away with a win.
Tampa Bay grabbed all of the game’s momentum in the third quarter, outscoring the Soul 18-7. But, special teams’ struggles plagued the Storm all night, with three missed extra points and three missed two-point tries costing them in the end.
Kennedy, relieving the injured Boltus, had a solid game, completing 17 of 26 passes for 241 yards and five touchdowns. His only major mistake came with the team down 42-37 early in the fourth quarter, throwing a pick six to Dwayne Hollis that gave the momentum back to the Soul.
Storm WR Prechae Rodriguez caught eight passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns while T.T. Toliver hauled in 12 catches for 152 yards and three scores. Ings was all over the field, catching the 40-yard touchdown, rushing for a four-yard score and returning a kick 57 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
The Storm will now turn its attention toward the Portland Steel (1-12). The matchup between the AFL’s two bottom-dwellers is set for next Saturday in Tampa at 5 p.m.