TAMPA — The St. Pete Times Forum was rocking, the scoreboard was rolling, and when the final horn sounded, the Storm was victorious.
Seemed like old times.
"This is a football city, man," Storm coach Tim Marcum said. "What a crowd, my goodness."
Tyrone Timmons caught four touchdown passes, the defense forced a pair of key turnovers, and the Arena Football League returned to the Tampa Bay area as the Storm picked up its first win of the season, defeating visiting Dallas 54-41 on Friday night in front of 14,122.
"The fans were there, and they were so loud," Marcum said. "What a fantastic atmosphere."
It was the Storm's (1-1) first home game in nearly two years; the league resumed play this season after a yearlong hiatus. With most franchises averaging around 6,000 fans through the first two weeks, the boisterous crowd proved that bay area fans have not forgotten a team with a league-record five championships.
"I'm so happy to be back," Timmons said. "I'm glad to have the fans back cheering us on."
Timmons gave them plenty of reasons, hauling in 11 passes for the second straight game. The 6-foot-4, 215 pound Tampa Bay Tech product accounted for 108 yards receiving and has nine touchdowns through the first two games.
"When we get down (by the end zone), I like to look for (Timmons)," Marcum said. "Not only is he a big body, but he plays big."
Quarterback Brett Dietz was sharp, going 30-of-45 for 320 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. Hank Edwards caught seven passes for 100 yards and a score. Cleannord Saintil (one receiving touchdown, two rushing) and Lawrence Samuels — both of whom signed this week — caught six passes each.
"Brett was on tonight," Timmons said.
Linebacker James Bear, who was also signed this week, made a key fourth-quarter goal-line stop with less than a minute to play in the first half. Dietz then marched the Storm downfield and found Timmons for an 8-yard touchdown for a 27-21 halftime lead.
With just more than four minutes left in the third quarter and the Storm ahead 33-28 and the Vigilantes (0-2) driving, defensive lineman Jermaine Smith recovered a fumble in the end zone to stop another drive.
Defensive back James McCoy sealed the win with an interception in the end zone with 4:49 to play.
"It was just so fun out there tonight, strategizing," Marcum said. "And winning is fun, but it was even more fun just to see the way the community welcomed us back."