TAMPA — Tampa Bay's defense held its opponent to fewer than 50 points for the fourth straight game, Hank Edwards caught four touchdown passes, and the Storm got a fortuitous bounce late in the fourth quarter to beat Oklahoma City 50-48 in front of 16,200 at the St. Pete Times Forum on Saturday night.
"When you hold a team under 50 in this league, that's saying something," Storm coach Tim Marcum said.
The Storm (5-3) trailed by a point with 3 minutes, 36 seconds left to play when Yard Dawgz quarterback Tommy Grady fumbled the exchange from center. The ball got knocked around and eventually kicked out of the end zone by an Oklahoma City lineman for a safety that put the Storm up for good, 43-42.
"(That) happened because we've got a nose guard named Tim McGill," Marcum said. "And he can make the T-formation exchange very difficult."
After the Yard Dawgz's onside kick attempt failed, Terrence Royal took the handoff on a Statue of Liberty play and scored from 4 yards to make it 50-42.
Oklahoma City (3-6) cut the lead to two with nine seconds to play on fullback Chad Cook's 3-yard run, but Michael Hawthorne, Eric Ortiz and Jermaine Smith stopped Cook short on the two-point conversion try.
"We knew Cook was going to get the ball, and I heard the D-line come together and say, 'These guys are not going to score,' " Ortiz said. "My adrenaline pumped up, and what an explosion of sound. It was unreal; unexplainable."
For a while it appeared miscues would again cost the Storm. Tampa Bay turned the ball over three times in the second half, including a Kevin McCullough interception returned 47 yards for a 42-41 Oklahoma City lead with just more than 12 minutes to play in the fourth.
"We made so many mistakes again," Marcum said. "We seem to be our own worst enemy."
Tampa Bay's offense was unstoppable in the first half, scoring on all four possessions. Edwards caught a pair of Brett Dietz TD passes, including a fourth-and-10 conversion that tied it at 7. Edwards' second TD, a 4-yard reception, capped a seven-play, 39-yard drive.
The Storm defense twice held in the first half, and Tampa Bay looked to take a 14-point cushion into the break, but receiver Al Hunt took an end around in from 2 yards out on the half's final play to cut it to 28-21.
All three Oklahoma City scores came on fourth-down plays.
"I feel we have a championship-caliber ballclub," Marcum said. "We just need to clean a few things up."