Sunday, May 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Storm

Storm falls to Talons

TAMPA — On paper, it appeared Tampa Bay had everything in its favor.

The Storm was riding a two-game winning streak, was playing a winless San Antonio team at home and had an offense that was lighting up the league.

But little looked right Friday as the Talons defeated Tampa Bay 52-36 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum before an announced crowd of 10,126.

"It wasn't like we didn't have effort. We just got beat by a better team," Storm coach Dave Ewart said.

Tampa Bay (2-2) went in averaging 67 points a game, but a fierce pass rush from the Talons (1-2) caused havoc. San Antonio had four sacks and made a habit of showing up in the Storm backfield, holding the league's top offense to a season low in points.

"If your guy is going down more than their guy, you probably lose," Ewart said.

The biggest sack happened with just less than 11 minutes to play. Adrian McPherson, who entered leading the Arena League in all-purpose yards, was hit hard from behind by lineman Joe Sykes. The ball popped loose, and Jamar Ranson returned it 18 yards for a touchdown and a 49-28 lead, the Talons' biggest of the night.

McPherson was slow to get up and did not return. To make matters worse, backup Shane Boyd injured his knee with just more than three minutes left to play and had to be helped off the field.

"Adrian's (injury) was his non-throwing arm, and he just had some numbness," Ewart said. "Shane took a hit on the knee. And until we get him to the doctor, I don't know (his condition)."

McPherson finished 12-of-21 for 141 yards and two touchdowns. The former Florida State star also ran for 46 yards and two touchdowns, the fourth straight time McPherson ran for multiple touchdowns in a game.

Receiver Joe Hills, who went in leading the league in catches and yards, was held in check. Hills caught four passes for 42 yards and two scores. Greg Ellingson led the Storm with seven receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.

The defense bailed out the offense in the first half, forcing two turnovers to keep the Talons within 21-15. The first of lineman R.J. Roberts' two sacks caused a fumble that defensive back Rashad Barksdale scooped. And defensive back De'Audra Dix picked off San Antonio quarterback Nick Hill in the end zone.

"We got some stops on defense but couldn't convert offensively," Ewart said.

After a shaky opening half on offense, things didn't start much better in the second. Tampa Bay could have taken the lead after Hills' 7-yard touchdown catch, but Juan Bongarra missed his third extra point of the game. Then, after San Antonio's second kickoff return for a touchdown put it on top for good at 28-21, McPherson threw his first interception of the season, in the end zone. San Antonio scored five plays later to take a 35-21 lead.