Storm Defeats Florida Despite Subpar PerformanceSam Sez
May 12, 1997
TAMPA, Fla. - "Whatever it takes to win," Tampa Bay Storm head coach Tim Marcum said after Saturday night's 38-19 victory over the overmatched Florida Bobcats. That's exactly what the Storm did, and not a whole lot more. While a 19-point margin may seem comfortable enough, it is certainly not very impressive in Arenaball standards against a team the caliber of Florida.
Despite early success with their passing game, the Storm was never able to find a good rhythm during the game, threatening to make it one of the lowest scoring contests in Arena Football history. Quarterback Peter Tom Willis could not repeat his stellar performance of a week ago. After a touchdown pass to Stevie Thomas early in the second quarter, the Storm offense was able to muster only two field goals by Terry Belden until the fourth quarter. The Storm was also heavily penalized, with offsides penalties often extending Florida drives.
The biggest positive to come out of the game was the continued outstanding defensive play by the Storm. With superstar defensive back Johnnie Harris leading the way with 4 tackles, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery and 2 passes defensed, the Bobcats offense was limited to 13 points. All night Luginbill was forced into the shotgun and short drops due to the heavy pressure by the Storm's defensive front. This allowed the Storm secondary to stop Florida's dangerous recieving duo of Bernard Edwards and Cleveland Pratt.
The Storm's offensive troubles are not surprising. Willis is new to the system and has to get used to his recievers. Game MVP Stevie Thomas, who ended up catching 11 balls for 145 yards and 3 TDs, said that the offense is "starting to jell." This was also the first game in the Ice Palace which will take some getting used to.
Looking ahead to next week, the Storm will face off against their arch-rivals from down I-4, the Orlando Predators. Despite Orlando's last-second defeat last week, they should have no problem getting up for a game aginst the Storm. The Storm will have a lot of work to do in practice this week if they hope to win in the latest chapter of the AFL's biggest rivalry.
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