WASHINGTON D.C. — The Washington Valor (1-3) lose in heartbreaking fashion tonight as the visiting Tampa Bay Storm (4-1) come into D.C. and sneak out with a hard fought victory. The Valor, who have struggled offensively since their Week 1 victory, showed signs of improvement on offense but ultimately fell a one yard short for a chance at victory tonight.
The Storm opened the game with a seven-play drive, capping it off with the first score of the game — an 11- yard pass from Storm QB Randy Hippeard to WR Kendrick Ings. After a missed extra point, the Storm led 6-0. One the ensuing possession, the Valor responded with an eight-play scoring drive capped by a three-yard pass from QB Eric Meyer to WR Roger Jackson to take the lead 7-6 with three minutes to go in the first.
The Valor, who coming into tonight’s game were the No. 1 scoring defense in the league, gave up three costly touchdowns in the second quarter, the last of which came on a very controversial miscue by the referees. The Valor’s defense came up with a big fourth-down stop at the goal line with just two seconds to go in the half. As the Valor celebrated the potential game-changing play, the referees said the play clock had not reset and therefore it was no play. The Storm scored two plays later on a run from Hippeard and after the two-point-conversion was successful the Valor were down 27-14 going into the half.
The Valor received the ball to start the second half and immediately drove 37 yards for a touchdown to close the gap to seven, trailing 20-27. On the ensuing possession, the Valor’s defense came up big once again, stopping the Storm on fourth down, giving the ball back to the Valor offense in Tampa Bay territory. Four plays later they scored to tie the game at 27.
After Tampa Bay scored again to go up seven, Washington put together an impressive seven-play drive capped off by 21-yard catch and run touchdown by Greg Carr from Meyer, but a missed extra point from TC Stevens left the Valor down a single point 33-34 with 9:38 to go in the fourth.
Storm QB Randy Hippeard’s fifth and final touchdown pass to Joe Hills on their next possession put the Storm up eight points with 3:34 to go.
Eric Meyer and the Valor drove the ball down to the six-yard-line and on 1st-and-goal ran a reverse to T.T. Toliver that nearly resulted in a touchdown as he dove over a defender and landed head over heels on the one-yard-line.
Then disaster struck.
Second-and-goal from the one-yard-line, with the entire stadium thinking about tying the game on a touchdown and two-point-conversion, QB Eric Meyer fumbled the snap and it was recovered by the defense, squashing any hope of overtime or a Valor win.
The Storm effectively ran out the clock and took home a 41-33 victory.
Offensive Player of the Game: TBS WR Joe Hills (9rec 85yds 3TDs)
Defensive Player of the Game: WSH DL Brandon Sesay (7tkls 2.5sacks)
Most Valuable Player: TBS QB Randy Hippeard (20-for-31 205yds 5TDs & 1 rusTD)