PHILADELPHIA — Playing its first game in Philadelphia since winning an Arena League championship in 2008, the Soul led Tampa Bay for almost the entire game Friday night.
Until the end.
Tampa Bay's Kyle Chilton kicked the winning 30-yard field goal for the Storm as time expired for a 51-48 win in front of 12,893 at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Storm (2-3) outscored the Soul 25-7 in the fourth quarter to snap a three-game losing streak. Rookie quarterback Grant Gregory, a former USF player, threw for 211 yards and six touchdowns for the Storm. Hank Edwards had a game-high four receiving touchdowns and 74 yards on 10 catches.
"Grant definitely made a step in the right direction tonight as far as … Arena Football," Edwards said. "He was seeing and throwing a lot quicker. He's only going to get better. He's a sharp guy and on his way right now."
The Soul (1-4) got two third-quarter touchdown passes from Ryan Vena to take a 41-26 lead, but the Storm dominated the fourth quarter. Vena was 18-of-33 for 225 yards with four touchdowns and one interception, and added two rushing TDs.
Storm fullback Eric Ortiz scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 13:32 remaining, and two of Edwards' touchdown catches, both 4 yards, came in the final eight minutes.
The Storm took the lead for the first time at 48-41 on Edwards' final TD catch, a 4-yarder, but Philadelphia tied it at 48 on a touchdown with 46 seconds left.
"We just believed and continued to fight," Storm receiver Huey Whittaker said. "It was a tough environment to play in, but we felt like we were going to win no matter what."
With Tampa Bay down 14-7 with 2:18 left in the first quarter, Gregory found Edwards for a 6-yard touchdown. Chilton missed the PAT and the Soul led 14-13.
"They were giving up the underneath throw, so we decided to take what they would give us," Edwards said. " … We had a great week of practice and have a great group of young guys who always work hard, and it carried over into tonight's game."
With 1:40 remaining before halftime, Chilton missed a 26-yard field goal, but the Storm got a second chance after Philadelphia fumbled. The Storm capitalized as Whittaker, a former USF and Springstead High receiver, plowed through a defender to pull the Storm within 21-20.
After another Soul touchdown, Gregory led a solid scoring drive for the Storm, completing three passes to former USF receiver Amarri Jackson, including a 4-yard touchdown. That pulled the Storm within two but Chilton's extra point was blocked and Philadelphia led 28-26 at halftime.