1998 Results | Game Coverage
Storm Sends Dogs to the Pound
By Andrew Mason
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - If there was one problem that has persisted for the Storm this year, it has been turnover differential. Through four games, the team's margin was minus-seven, among the worst marks in the league.
Tampa Bay coaxed the New Jersey Red Dogs into six turnovers, three of which turned into scoring plays, as the Storm dominated matters from start to finish, thoroughly collaring the Dogs 81-42 in front of a sparse crowd at the Continental Airlines Arena on Saturday night.
The three turnover touchdowns came on Red Dog fumbles in the second half. Two came on consecutive plays in the third quarter, and turned an already embarrassing 43-21 Storm margin into a 57-21 bulge with 8:27 left in the third quarter that effectively put an end to any reasonable chance of a comeback. The first came on a superb individual effort by Les Barley, who sacked New Jersey QB Rickey Foggie at the Dogs' two-yard- line, forced the ball out of his hands and pounced on it in the end zone for the score.
On the ensuing Bjorn Nittmo kickoff, New Jersey returner Adrian Lunsford took the ball seven yards deep in the end zone and got to his four-yard-line before being walloped to the ground by Storm DS Johnnie Harris. The ball squirted out, and WR/DB Alvoid Mays scooped it up on the fly as it bounced into the end zone for the Storm's second score in two plays.
From there, Tampa Bay cruised. The only questions that remained were in regards to Storm history, and how many team records would be broken on the night.
The most obvious record came in total points. Twice, the Storm had scored 69---in 1995 at Las Vegas in a 69-55 win and in 1996 at home against Arizona in a 69-48 triumph. Wtih 7:56 to spare, the Storm went over that mark on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Bryan Martin to Lawrence Samuels. The score pushed the Storm's gaping margin to 74-35. Two minutes later, Samuels added his third touchdown of the night, as he picked up another Foggie fumble and ran three yards for the score and the Storm's first 80-point night.
Tampa Bay also cranked up the pass rush, recording three sacks for the second consecutive game. Barley's led directly to a touchdown, while a first-quarter sack by Andre Bowden forced the Red Dogs to try a field goal. A second quarter sack by lineman Steve Houghton on Red Dogs QB Aaron Garcia resulted in a safety.
Trailing 40-21 at halftime, the Red Dogs made a desperate move, benching Garcia---who entered the evening as the second-highest rated passer in the league---in favor of the backup Foggie, who took most of the Dogs' snaps last season. Garcia, though, was not the root of New Jersey's ills. He completed nine of 16 passes in the first half for 150 yards and three scores.
Foggie accounted for two touchdown passes, but also committed two fumbles which led directly to scores, one by Barley and the other by Samuels.
The Storm never trailed, jumping out to a 14-0 lead on the strength of two defensive stops---including one on an interception by Samuels, who seemed to be everywhere---and scores by Samuels on a 19-yard pass from QB Peter Tom Willis and Bowden on a one-yard run.
This game will be difficult for the Storm to top. It came against a solid New Jersey team---the same club that whipped the Storm like tired puppies, 44-28 at the Ice Palace last June. It also saw the Storm make big plays on offense, defense and special teams, an all-around effort that is unmatched in the team's history. However, they will try and do even better next week against the Red Dogs' cross-river rivals, the New York CityHawks. New York will come to Tampa on just five days' rest, as they take on the Orlando Predators in a Monday night game from Madison Square Garden. Kickoff for the Storm-CityHawks game will come at 7:40 p.m. at the Ice Palace in Tampa.
Thunderclaps..."What You Talkin' 'Bout, Willis?" - The Storm's quarterback wasn't the only player surnamed Willis to turn in an outstanding statistical night. New Jersey OS Larry Ray Willis caught three touchdown passes from Aaron Garcia in the first half---one from 14 and two from 37 yards out. He personally accounted for all but seven of the Red Dogs' offensive yards in the first half. However, in the second half, he was silenced, not catching a pass.
The Question is, Should They Take the Ball Back? - Barley came into the game with 1,001 yards on the ground for his career. When he broke the 1,000-yard barrier last week in West Palm Beach, he received the game ball for his accomplishment. However, he went back below a grand when he lost two yards on a plunge up the middle early in the third quarter, leaving him with 999 yards for his career. However, he went back over 1,000 in the final minute of play with two rushes for six yards. He ended the game with 1,005 yards, making it more unlikely he will fall back below the magic number.
Mad Marcum - Perhaps never has a coach been called for four penalties in the space of two minutes. But that's exactly what happened in the third quarter of the game. Storm coach Tim Marcum was warned earlier in the game by referee Wes Fritz about venturing too far onto the field. Such a warning had never been levied against the coach before. When Marcum was again caught being too far onto the field, he was whistled for a three-yard penalty. This sent the veteran coach into a frenzied tirade, punctuated by yelling audible enough to be heard on the Sunshine Network telecast and the requisite flailing of arms in all directions. He was whistled for three unsportsmanlike penalties over the course of two minutes of game action. However, Marcum could not have picked a better time to go on his penalty binge. Because the Red Dogs had advanced into a goal-to-go situation on offense, the penalties were merely for half the distance to the goal line. The sum yardage of Marcum's penalties was just seven yards. Perhaps it was well worth the yardage loss to make a point about an offense that has never been called in a Storm game before.
Awards - The Wilson MVP was Willis and the Tinactin Ironman was Samuels.
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