TAMPA — With division rival Orlando coming to town Friday, the Storm needed a win Saturday against a streaking Pittsburgh Power team if it wanted to improve its playoff aspirations. Tampa Bay made things interesting against the East Division leader, doing just enough to come away with a 62-55 victory for its third win in the past four games in front of 11,756 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The Storm recovered from an interception on the first play from scrimmage and three missed extra points to put up its highest scoring output this season. The Storm improved to 5-7, trailing Orlando (8-4) and Georgia (7-6) for the two wild-card slots.
"We know we control our own destiny with (four of the next six games) against conference opponents, but we just wanted to take care of this one tonight before we started concentrating on Orlando," coach Dave Ewart said. "This is a one-game season now. The good thing about it is we control our own fate."
The Storm had early season difficulties closing games, but with Brian Zbydniewski making his sixth straight start at quarterback, Tampa Bay seems to have found its groove.
The rookie completed 24 of 34 passes for 372 yards and eight touchdowns.
"It's starting to feel a lot more comfortable out there, and the receivers and I have created a good connection," said Zbydniewski, who had his third 300-yard passing game of the season. "We're getting used to everyone now and in a nice groove. We just have to keep it consistent."
There were four ties and seven lead changes until the Storm seized the advantage for good early in the fourth quarter on a 35-yard pass from Zbydniewski to Hank Edwards to put the Storm up 52-48. After a 20-yard field goal by Kyle Chilton minutes later, Zbydniewski gave the Storm some insurance with a 41-yard strike to Amarri Jackson with a little less than six minutes to play.
"We knew they were coming in with a good offense so we knew it was going to be a battle, and we just kept up with them," Zbydniewski said.
Tampa Bay took its first lead in the second quarter when Jackson, a former USF receiver, secured a bobbling catch in the end zone for a 28-yard score and 28-21 lead.