Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Storm

Storm still winless after overtime loss to Cleveland

TAMPA — Last week Tampa Bay came within two points of its first win of the season. Monday night the Storm took Cleveland to overtime.

But in the end, the result remained the same.

Jason Boltus was picked off in the end zone on Tampa Bay's first possession of the extra period, after Cleveland scored to open overtime, as the Gladiators defeated the Storm 70-63 in front of an announced crowd of 9,722 Monday night at Amalie Arena.

Tampa Bay won the overtime toss and elected to kick. Cleveland took over on its 14-yard line and four plays later, Arvell Nelson hit Larry Beavers for a 24-yard touchdown to put Cleveland ahead 70-63.

On the Storm's ensuing possession, Boltus rolled left under pressure and lofted a deep ball that defensive back Marvin Ross intercepted to seal the win.

With the Storm ahead 63-56, Nelson hit Collin Taylor for a 12-yard score with 10 seconds left to force overtime.

The Storm fell to 0-7, the worst start in franchise history.

The Storm's offense output was staggering compared to the first six games. Only once, last week in a 42-40 loss at Orlando, had Tampa Bay scored more than 30 before Monday.

For the second week in a row, the Storm put together a strong first half. Boltus finished 20-of-31 for 210 yards and tossed five touchdowns to four different receivers.

The biggest score came on the final play of the second quarter. With the Storm trailing by seven at the Gladiators' 2 with two seconds left in the half, Boltus lofted a fade into the back right corner that Gregory snagged to tie the score at 35.

But Boltus also tossed a first-half interception that was returned 33 yards for a TD and a 20-14 lead for Cleveland (4-4).

What might have been the play of the game for the Storm came midway through the fourth quarter. Cortez Stubbs jumped a curl route and returned the interception 26 yards to the 7. Boltus then snuck it in from 1 yard out with 41/2 minutes to play, making it 56-49 and giving Tampa Bay its first lead since Anthony Parker's second-quarter TD catch.

Boltus was 30-of-46 for 341 yards and eight TDs. Toliver recorded team highs in catches (12) and yards (158) and hauled in three scores. Julius Gregory added seven catches for 99 yards and three TDs; Philip Barnett caught nine balls for 81 yards and a score.

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