TAMPA — The Storm won its fifth in a row, and this was one was decided before the final seconds.
Tampa Bay used Alvin Ray Jackson's recovery of the second-half kickoff to grab a big lead and defeat visiting Baltimore 47-35 on Saturday night in front of an announced 9,880 at Amalie Arena.
Jackson's 5-yard return for a touchdown put Tampa Bay (6-1) ahead 33-14. With the Storm's offense not scoring in the third quarter, Baltimore closed to within 33-28. But quarterback Randy Hippeard hit Kendrick Ings for a 4-yard touchdown to start the fourth and make it 40-28.
Tampa Bay forced its first turnover in downs in more than a month next, with LaRoche Jackson tackling Julian Talley a yard shy of the marker, and Hippeard found Joe Hills for a putaway touchdown with 8:47 remaining.
In three of Tampa Bay's previous four victories, it scored the winning touchdown in the final five seconds. In the other, Washington had a chance to tie in the closing minute but fumbled at the Storm 1-yard line.
Hippeard was 29-of-41 for 275 yards. Hills caught 10 passes for 124 yards and two scores. He has 75 consecutive games with a touchdown.
Greg Reid, a two-time All-Arena player added to the roster Wednesday, had two near interceptions — he has 17 in less than two Arena seasons — and LaRoche Jackson broke up three passes as part of a recently improved secondary.
The Storm used a first-quarter fumble to take a 20-7 lead, with Hippeard a perfect 7-for-7 in the first. Hills added his first career rushing touchdown.
Tampa Bay moved within a game of idle Philadelphia for first place in the five-team Arena League.
The Storm host last-place Washington on Saturday.