ORLANDO — Advantage Tampa Bay.
It was a wild installment of the I-4 rivalry as the Storm took a one-game lead in the series by defeating Orlando 53-35 at the Amway Center on Saturday night before 11,961.
"We have a great coaching staff, and they get these guys ready," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "No one is going to outwork us."
Tampa Bay now leads the series 26-25.
"That tells you something about how close this rivalry is," Ewart said.
The Storm also improved to 3-2, second in the South Division, two games behind Jacksonville.
The game included:
• A fan interfering with the Storm's De'Audra Dix during an interception return.
• Interceptions on the Predators' first two possessions leading to the benching of Kyle Rowley.
• Backup Chris Dixon (17-of-21, 198 yards, three touchdowns) being knocked out of the game in the fourth on Storm defensive back Rashad Barksdale's hit.
• The Storm playing most of the second half without kicker Juan Bongarra, who was taken to an area hospital with chest pains. (His condition was unavailable.) The Storm went for two points on its touchdowns, and receiver Greg Ellington handled kickoffs.
"Anything that could happen, happened," Ewart said.
After building an early 14-point lead, the Storm offense looked spotty in the first half. It especially struggled in short-yardage situations, losing a fumble at the goal line with five seconds left in the half.
"We had an opportunity before the half to take control of this game," Ewart said. "Can't make those mistakes against a good football team."
Tampa Bay failed to convert on fourth and 1 at the Orlando 11 to start the third. Dixon then hit T.T. Toliver on a 30-yard touchdown to give Orlando (0-4) its first lead, 28-27.
"We had to fight," Ewart said. "Simple as that."
But the Storm took control on the ensuing possession, which was capped by Ellington's 40-yard touchdown catch. Dix recovered a fumble on the Predators' next possession. And Adrian McPherson (12-of-23, 223 yards, four touchdowns) hit Mike Lindsey for 25 yards to make it 39-28.
The game got off to a wild start. Dix picked off Rowley in the end zone on Orlando's first possession and took it down the left sideline. Dix appeared to have a clear path to the end zone, but a fan reached over the boards and knocked the ball loose. Barksdale picked up the ball and took it in.
No penalty was called, and the fan was not ejected.