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Storm falls to Philadelphia

The Storm’s Joe Hills reaches the ball across the goal line to score on a 15-yard return of an onside kick during the first half.

AUSTIN ANTHONY | Times

The Storm’s Joe Hills reaches the ball across the goal line to score on a 15-yard return of an onside kick during the first half.

TAMPA — The Storm staged a rally late in the first half to take the lead Saturday night against Philadelphia.

There was no second-half comeback, however, as the Soul ran away with a 73-55 win in front of 11,804 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Tampa Bay, bidding for its first playoff berth since 2010, has lost two of its past three games to fall to 6-4. It dropped one game behind South Division leader Jacksonville, a 44-41 winner over Orlando on Saturday.

"We were just flat," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "We need to get better, and we need to get better fast."

Philadelphia (5-4) trailed 34-31 at halftime before breaking away with a 28-7 run. The Storm failed on fourth down on its first two second-half series. Adrian McPherson was sacked on the first and threw an incompletion on the second.

Ross ran for his third touchdown to restore Philadelphia's lead to 38-34 early in the third. The lead increased to 45-34 on Andrae Thurman's 14-yard touchdown catch.

Tampa Bay pulled within 45-41 on McPherson's 29-yard pass to Greg Ellingson with 2:09 remaining in the third. It tried an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but the Soul recovered and scored one play later for a 52-41 lead.

Philadelphia then succeeded on an onside kick. And on the first play of the fourth, Dan Raudabaugh hit Ryan McDaniel for a 44-yard touchdown.

While McPherson completed just 19 of 35 passes for 258 yards and was sacked four times, his counterpart fueled Philadelphia's offense. Raudabaugh threw for 297 yards and seven touchdowns. Fullback Derrick Ross added four touchdowns, three rushing and one receiving.

McPherson passed for five touchdowns, three to Joe Hills and two to Ellingson, and extended his league record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with Nos. 25 and 26.

McPherson's struggles notwithstanding, Ewart said not all the blame should fall on his quarterback's shoulders.

"There's a lot of factors that go into it," he said. "You've got the pass rush. You've got receivers not running the right routes. It's not just him."

Trailing for most of the first half, Tampa Bay outscored Philadelphia 21-10 on three touchdowns by Hills over the last 1:15 of the first half. Hills sandwiched 6-yard catches around a 15-yard return of an onside kick.

Raudabaugh connected with Ross on a 7-yard touchdown and LaRi Stevenson kicked a 31-yard field goal in that span.

"We were able to go in up at halftime," Ewart said, "which is huge."

Storm falls to Philadelphia 05/25/13 [Last modified: Sunday, May 26, 2013 1:19am]

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