Storm Returns to Form, Runs Over Kats

Sam Sez

Sam Wolfson
Contributing Editor

May 29, 1997

TAMPA, Fla. - To be honest, one couldn't be sure of what to expect from the Tampa Bay Storm going into Friday night's game against the Nashville Kats. One had to wonder which team would show up. The one that defeated an excellent Arizona Rattlers team in the first game of the season, or the dazed and confused version that muddled through the next two games.

At the start of the game, it looked as if it was the latter team that arived at Nashville Arena, nicknamed "The Alley." The Kats jumped out to an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Former Tennessee quarterback Andy Kelly connected with Khevin Pratt on a 9 yard touchdown to complete a 5 play march down the field to start the game. The Tampa Bay offense responded by coming out and looking out of sync, settling for a 43 yard field goal attempt by Terry Belden that was wide left.

Then, the tide of the game began to shift. Nashville again drove into good scoring range. They set up for a 30 yard field goal attempt by the Storm's kicker last season, Jorge Cimadevilla. He nailed it. The kick was negated by a holding penalty on the Kats. Forced to attempt a much more difficult 38 yard kick, Cimadevilla missed, allowing the Storm to stay within 7 points of the Kats.

Given this momentum, the Storm came out and ran the ball. They ran the ball. And then they ran the ball some more. The Storm threw a change-up to the Kats defense, going heavily to the ground in what is usually a game dominated by the pass. The Storm ran 3 times for 16 yards on this drive, appropriately capped by a 5 yard TD run by Tony Jones. The Storm continued the running trend the rest of the game. Jones ended up rushing for 20 yards and 2 TDs, while Storm Shelter Ironman of the game Les Barley rushed for 37 yards on 8 carries. For comparison, the Kats totaled 5 yards on the ground for the entire game.

With the Nashville defense forced to respect the Storm's runners, Peter Tom Willis was once again able to fly the friendly skies. And in Arena Football, there aren't many better people to do it with than offensive specialist George LaFrance. LaFrance had yet another great game in what has been a career full of them. He caught 8 passes for 99 yards and 4 TDs, earning the Storm Shelter MVP of the game award. Stevie Thomas played well catching 5 passes for 70 yards. The real breakthrough may have come from Lawrence Samuels, asserting himself as a possible 3rd receiver, catching 7 passes for 77 yards.

All around, it was a good performance by the Storm Friday night. The Storm defense came up big, recording thier first sack of the season, and registering two more interceptions. This game should be a good building block for next week's showdown with the 2-2 Milwaukee Mustangs. The Storm will need another strong performance if it hopes to defeat a tough Mustangs club.

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