Thursday, June 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Storm

Storm earns first victory, snapping seven-game skid

TAMPA — T.T. Toliver became the second player to catch 100 touchdowns with two teams near the end of Sunday's game against Arizona. But his 101st, in the final seconds, was the catch that finally ended the Storm's misery.

Toliver made a sensational over-the-shoulder grab for a 28-yard touchdown with three seconds left as Tampa Bay snapped its seven-game losing streak to start the season by defeating visiting Arizona 63-56 at Amalie Arena in front of an announced 8,298.

"I'll take him at 45 where I'm at right now," Storm coach Lawrence Samuels said of the 39-year-old Toliver. "He's an ageless wonder."

The victory ended the worst start in team history. Dating to last season, the Storm had lost 13 of its previous 14.

"First time you guys have seen me smile all year," Samuels said. "We've been close the last few weeks but didn't finish. Tonight, we finished."

Toliver's 9-yard touchdown catch on fourth and goal, the 100th of his Storm career, put his club up 56-48 with 48 seconds to play. The 13-year veteran also recorded 148 scores while with Orlando.

But Arizona pulled within two on Rod Windsor's 21-yard touchdown catch with 21 seconds left. The Storm twice appeared to stop Arizona (6-3) on the two-point conversion, but Tampa Bay was flagged for a pass interference and an offside. Arizona quarterback Nick Davila eventually snuck it in from the 1 to tie it.

Tampa Bay took over and after an 11-yard completion to Toliver and an incomplete pass to Philip Barnett, Jason Boltus (24-of-39 for 358 yards and six touchdowns) lofted a back-shoulder lob to Toliver, who reached over the side wall to haul in the winner.

"I can't be the one to say whether it was a spectacular catch (or not)," Toliver said. "All I can say it was a good throw. Right there."

The Storm twice forced fourth-quarter turnovers on downs to help turn a seven-point deficit into a 14-point lead. Cortez Stubbs picked off his team-high third pass of the year and the Storm recorded a pair of sacks, with the second coming from Everett Dawkins to end a series and set up Toliver's first of two touchdowns.

Toliver finished with team highs in catches (nine) and yards (182). Julius Gregory and Barnett (three touchdowns) each caught seven balls for the Storm. Wide receiver Gerald Young was activated from injured reserve and had two touchdowns, one receiving and one on a kickoff return.