CLEVELAND — Four yards from victory, the Tampa Bay Storm instead fell 41-29 Saturday when Cleveland's Joe Powell returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown with eight seconds left.
The Gladiators (1-1) went ahead 34-29 on a 26-yard touchdown pass by Dennis Havrilla to Collin Taylor with a minute left, but the Storm (0-2) recovered the onside kick and Cleveland chose not to use its timeouts.
The perfect setup continued with a defensive penalty, giving the Storm first and goal at the 4 with 18 seconds left. But Jonathan Bane's pass went to Powell, who has four interceptions in two games, three for TDs.
Bane came on to start the second half for an injured Adam Kennedy. The two combined to complete just 18 of 37 passes, but Bane found V'Keon Lacey twice for scores and a 26-21 lead before a critical juncture. The Storm defense, which earlier got two turnovers, got the ball back to the offense at the Gladiator 1 — and Tampa Bay could not get the two-score lead.
Cleveland went 49 yards to go ahead, but Craig Peterson's 25-yard field goal had the Storm up 29-28 with 3:46 remaining.
Tampa Bay recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, and DL Everett Dawkins forced another as the Storm went ahead 12-0. But Cleveland came back to go ahead 14-12 at half.
Phillip Barnett led the Storm with seven catches for 69 yards and a touchdown.