TAMPA, FL – Quarterback Randy HIppeard scored from one yard out as Tampa Bay defeated the Cleveland Gladiators, 62-61, in a come-from-behind Arena Football League game Saturday night at Amalie Arena on the Amalie Motor Oil Field.
The Storm (2-1) trailed by as many as 20 points in the first half but battled back, again late in the game and trailed 61-56 before Hippeard, who drove the team 46 yards in seven plays, scored with just three second remaining in the game.
Hippeard, named the game’s Offensive Player, was 37 for 47, 395 yards and seven touchdown passes. He also ran for two scores.
Joe Hills caught four touchdown passes and had 15 catches for 141 yards, but the Storm’s LaMark Brown had a game-high 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Emergency kicker Delbert Alvarado was named the Most Valuable Player for his 7-for-7 extra point kicks and also a on-side kick that the Storm recovered.
Defensively, the Storm’s DB Cortez Stubbs was named Defensive Player for game-leading nine tackles and a tackle for loss.
The key play, to put the Storm ahead for the first time, came near the end of the third quarter when Dexter Jackson recovered a fumble in the end-zone. Alvin Ray Jackson’s hit on Gladiators’ quarterback Arvell Nelson, at the Tampa Bay one yard line, forced the fumble.
That led to a seven play, 45 yard drive, capped by a Hippeard to Hills pass and the Storm led, 35-33.
The Storm trailed 13-7 at the end of the first quarter, but that deficit increased to 20 (33-13) due to a pair of Tampa Bay turnovers. Nelson connected with Michael Preston and Quentin Sims twice before the Storm rallied.
Kendrick Ings, the AFL all-purpose yards and return leader, scored on a pair of passes from Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard that cut the Gladiators lead to 33-21.
On the ensuing Storm kickoff, Ings recovered the on-side boot, and Hippeard completed a 39-yard, five-play drive, with a 7-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Joe Hills with a seven-yard strike with nine seconds left in the first half. This cut The Glads lead to 33-28 with the Storm receiving the opening third-quarter kickoff.
Ings came into the game leading in seven categories, including six in the kickoff department. He was, in two games, averaging 202.5 yards.