Storm Looks to Regroup After Devastating Loss

Sam Sez

Sam Wolfson
Contributing Editor

May 19, 1997

TAMPA, Fla. - Going into Saturday night's game against their arch-rivals, the Orlando Predators, the Storm knew that young Scott Semptimphelter would be making his first ever Arenaball start at quarterback. So, it should come as no surprise that one quarterback completed only 38% of his passes, got sacked 4 times, and threw 4 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for touchdowns. Unfortunately for Storm fans, this line did not belong to Semptimphelter.

Scott Semptimphelter completed 50% of his passes for 4 touchdowns and no interceptions, helping the Predators destroy the Storm 43-17 in the most one-sided home loss in team history. Nothing seemed to go the Storm's way as the Predators led the entire way from the first play of the game. Not only did the 26 point loss mark the worst home defeat, it was the second worst defeat ever, since the Storm lost by 27 (48-21) at Arizona in 1994. As if that didn't make 1994 bad enough for Tampa Bay, they also lost by 26 (71-45) at Albany that same season. The 17 points scored by the Storm offense is the lowest total ever by the team.

This historically bad game for the Storm got off to a bad start. Offensive specialist George LaFrance returned the opening kick out to the Storm 10 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Storm quarterback Peter Tom Willis' pass over the middle was intercepted by Barry Wagner who jogged untouched into the endzone. Then, still in the first, with the Storm trailing only 6-3, Willis again had a pass intercepted, this time by former Storm defensive specialist Corris Ervin who also had an easy run to paydirt. Early in the second quarter, the Storm tried to get it together and drove for a first and goal at the Orlando 5 yard line. Down by only 11 points, Stevie Thomas fumbled on an end-around, and Orlando recovered. Semptimphelter then threw his first TD of the night, a 36 yard bomb to Wagner, and the Storm was in a 17 point hole.

Quarterback Peter Tom Willis is an obvious place to start when looking at the Storm's problems Saturday night. Willis said that his two early intercetions put the team, "behind the eight-ball."

Despite the poor performance, Storm coach Tim Marcum said that he never considered benching Willis in favor of backup QB Dan White. "To put Dan White into that situation," Marcum said, "would not have been a good thing." Marcum also refused to put blame on anyone saying, "we're going to win as a team, and now we're going to accept this loss as a team."

Another problem facing the Storm as they look ahead to next week's matchup with the Nashville Kats, whose offensive coordinator is former Storm QB Jay Gruden, is their pass rush. The Storm is yet to record a sack this season, and they were never able to generate much pressure on the unexperienced Orlando quarterback. The Storm must improve in this area if Nashville QB and former University of Tennessee star Andy Kelly is going to be stopped Friday night.

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