Tampa Bay Storm
Storm can’t solve Orlando in defeat
The Storm fought a good fight but lost the war.
In the 52nd meeting of the “War on I-4,” the Orlando Predators topped the Storm 55-48 on Saturday for Tampa Bay’s second straight home loss before an announced crowd of 14,041 at the Forum.
“There’s never any positives from a loss,” Storm coach Dave Ewalt said. “These guys play Arena Football and know that if they keep playing they are still in the game. We just can’t turn it over, twice, and we can’t have that many dropped passes. Just can’t.”
Despite quarterback Adrian McPherson completing 24 of 41 passes for 314 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions, the Storm (7-5) couldn’t stay ahead of the Predators (3-8).
Veteran quarterback Aaron Garcia threw for 289 yards and six touchdowns on 24 of 37 passing to lead Orlando.
“They got about five franchise guys, so they’re a lot different (from when we beat them 53-35 on April 20),” Ewalt said. “They are supposed to be one of the best teams in the league, on paper, and they showed they were tonight.”
The Storm, who dropped to 2-4 at home this season after going 7-2 at the Forum in 2012, were tied at 48 in the fourth quarter in part due to a Jean Fanor interception with 8:04 left. That led to a 28-yard pass from McPherson to Chris Davis, who had four catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns.
However, the Predators turned around and took the lead for good on a 46-yard pass from Garcia to Prechae Rodriguez, who had 12 receptions for 157 yards and five touchdowns.
With less than a minute remaining, the Storm had one more chance as Rashad Barksdale picked off a Garcia pass in the end zone and, seemingly, returned it for the tying score. But after review, it was ruled that he was pushed into the out-of-bounds wall and the ball was spotted on the Storm 2-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, the Storm made a push past midfield, but Jason Cherry lost the ball and the Predators recovered the fumble.
The Storm took advantage of a few deep plays, including a 40-yard pass from McPherson to Michael Lindsey, who had five catches for 91 yards and a score. Lindsey was ejected in the third quarter after a skirmish in the end zone.