Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Storm's turnaround puts it in playoff hunt

The play of quarterback Randy Hippeard has been a big reason for the Storm's turnaround. [KENT NISHIMURA | Times]

The play of quarterback Randy Hippeard has been a big reason for the Storm's turnaround. [KENT NISHIMURA | Times]

TAMPA — What a difference a month makes.

The Storm was reeling May 17 after losing 62-43 on the road to Philadelphia, Tampa Bay's fifth consecutive defeat. That put the team at 4-6 and sinking rapidly in the Arena League's American Conference.

"As coaches, we just stayed positive," Storm coach Lawrence Samuels said.

"There are always going to be tough times during a season. We just had to get back to doing the things we believe in as an organization."

Four wins in as many weeks later, Tampa Bay finds itself right back in the thick of things. The Storm will look to make it five wins in a row tonight against South Division leader Orlando when it hosts the Predators.

"These young guys are learning to deal with adversity," Samuels said. "They have been down in some of these games (during the winning streak) and have overcome it. It has been enjoyable to watch."

The play of QB Randy Hippeard has been a big reason for the Storm's turnaround. Hippeard has a 62 percent completion rate during the win streak with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions. Hippeard's numbers have been good but his moxie has been better.

Hippeard was twice knocked out of the June 7 home game against Philadelphia. At one point, he was carried to the sideline by two Storm linemen before returning to throw three fourth-quarter touchdowns in the team's 56-49 victory.

"The guys really rallied around him after that," Samuels said. "The team believes in him. The coaches believe in him. He's been phenomenal the last four weeks and it's a credit to his determination and leadership."

But Hippeard hasn't had the lone hand in the turnaround. Tampa Bay's defense has come up with some huge stops of late, including a pair of goal-line stands against Philadelphia and another against Iowa last week. Following a Storm interception in overtime against the Barnstormers, Tampa Bay's defense forced a turnover on downs, setting up an 11-yard Hippeard scoring run to win 62-56.

"It really hasn't been just one phase of defense, it's been a collective effort," Samuels said. "They are playing for one another and that's a big thing."

Playoffs: With consecutive wins against Philadelphia (6-7) and Iowa (6-7), the Storm is a game up on both teams in the wild-card race and holds the tiebreaker against both. The division winners in each conference, along with teams holding the next two best records, regardless of division, advance to the postseason.

Magic number: The Storm's 62 points against Iowa was the second time in three games it has scored at least 60. The Storm is 4-1 this season when it reaches that mark.

Garcia Returns: Former Jefferson High and South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia re-signed with the team. This is Garcia's second Storm stint this season. He appeared in one game (1-of-4, 6 yards) and was released in April. To make room, QB Sammuel Lamur was released.

Storm's turnaround puts it in playoff hunt 06/20/14 [Last modified: Friday, June 20, 2014 10:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ronde Barber: Want intimidation? Look at past Bucs teams


    Ronde Barber says these days "it's hard to find throwbacks, where you go, 'That guy is a badass.' Where do you find that now? It's such a show-off sport." (Times 2012)
  2. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  3. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. gets extra day off to let hip heal

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RF Steven Souza Jr. ran in rightfield before batting practice under the watchful gaze of the Rays training staff and manager Kevin Cash. Afterward, Souza told Cash he could use one more day of rest before playing on the left hip he strained Wednesday in Oakland.

    Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brad Miller (13) gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after his solo home run in the fourth inning of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, July 21, 2017.
  4. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: FS1; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)