During one of the few clear nights of the summer rainy season in the Tampa Bay area, the downpour of losing continued inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum as the Storm lost its fourth straight game Saturday night to the Spokane Shock 63-49. The tough loss to the Western Division foe not only stopped them from potentially clinching an AFL playoff spot, but gave the team its 6th loss at home in what is turning into a disappointing season.
While they still are missing starting quarterback Adrian McPherson, the offense was still efficient with backup Randy Hippeard under center, who was 23-37 for 249 yards and 6 touchdowns, but a controversial penalty that nullified an interception return for a touchdown by dual-threat player Michael Lindsey and a “bar ball” kickoff that was recovered by Kamar Jorden of the Shock in the endzone for a touchdown killed all the momentum that the Storm offense had built midway through the third quarter.
Heading into the 4th quarter the Storm looked like it had found some stability and tied the game on a 25 yard connection between Randy Heappard and Joe Hills, who eclipsed the 1500 yard mark and 100 catches during the game, for their fourth score of the game- but the subsequent drive for the 11-4 Shock team saw OL Chris Pino take screen pass and rumble 19 yard for the game clinching touchdown and a 56-49 lead.
Star of the Game:
Brian Thompkins WR Spokane Shock: The second year man out of Arkansas State was the steady and reliable target of Shock quarterback Erik Meyer as they connected for 12 catches 123 yards and 5 touchdowns. This was easily the best game of the season for the slot receiver who got a third of his touchdown production in one game
Goat of the Game:
The Storm defense: It seemed like every time the Storm looked like it was taking control of the game offensively, the defense would have lapses where they missed key tackles that allowed the drive to continue or let the slippery Shock receivers get into the end zone. With there still being no timetable on the return of starting quarterback Adrian McPherson, the defense has to play better over these final three games of the season or they will not make the playoffs.
The Storm look to continue its strangely good play on the road as they head to San Antonio to face a 8-7 Talons team who also are fighting for playoff position and just like the Storm are struggling more at home than on the road. So if the odd pattern continues, look for the Storm to come back to Tampa with a victory that would have ended the losing streak and put them closer to clinching a playoff birth for the first time since 2010.