TAMPA — On paper heading into Friday's Arena Football League game between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, things appeared to be quite one-sided.
Philadelphia, the AFL's top team, came in riding a five-game winning streak. The Soul entered as the top scoring team in the league, and it had crushed Tampa Bay 83-48 in their last meeting. The Storm had lost three in a row and five of its previous six.
But on Friday, Tampa Bay led by 10 in the fourth quarter and by three in the final minute before quarterback Dan Raudabaugh rallied the Soul to an 83-79 victory in front of 9,229 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"I'm proud of our guys," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "They fought their butts off tonight. … That's a good football team we played, and we hung with them."
With 37 seconds left, Raudabaugh hit Tiger Jones on a 40-yard pass to the Storm 5-yard line. Three plays later, Donovan Morgan hauled in a 4-yard score, his fourth touchdown of the game, with 14 seconds to play.
The Storm took over with 10 seconds left from its 7 and ran three plays, but a desperation pass from Nick Hill (27-for-42 for 313 yards, five passing touchdowns, three rushing) into the end zone as time expired fell incomplete.
The 79 points were a season high for the Storm (6-9) and the most Philadelphia (13-3) has surrendered in 2012. The loss is Tampa Bay's fourth in a row and dents its wild-card playoff hopes with three games remaining.
The Storm defense had fits trying to stop the big play. The Soul scored on three passing plays of 45 yards and returned a kickoff 56 yards for a TD.
However, Tampa Bay's defense made a few big plays of its own. Defensive lineman Pernell Phillips had a 10-yard fumble recovery for a score and defensive back Martel Moody's interception in the third quarter led to a 7-yard score by De'Cody Fagg (eight catches, 68 yards, one TD) that gave the Storm a 65-55 lead in the fourth.
But the biggest defensive play of the night was one that wasn't made. With Tampa Bay up by three, defensive back Riley Swanson dropped an interception in the end zone with 18 seconds left that would have sealed a victory.
"We had a chance to get a turnover at the end and didn't make the play," Ewart said. "Riley makes that play nine out of 10 times."
Tampa Bay trailed 21-7 after the first quarter but scored 30 in the second quarter to turn it into a shootout.
Offensive lineman Julius Wilson (ankle) and receiver Amarri Jackson (abdominal strain) were injured in the first quarter and did not return. Tampa Bay was already playing without leading receiver Prechae Rodriguez, who sat out with knee trouble.