NEW ORLEANS — Dave Ewart's victory in his first game as Storm coach wasn't conventional by Arena Football League standards, but perhaps that's fitting since the way he got the job was unconventional.
Ewart, promoted from assistant head coach four days before training camp after Tim Marcum resigned, saw his team fail to throw a touchdown pass, yet it still outscored the New Orleans VooDoo 46-40 in the season opener for both teams Friday night at the New Orleans Arena.
Marcum resigned amid a controversy concerning racially insensitive and pornographic e-mails found on his work computer.
Tampa Bay, which scored five rushing touchdowns and never trailed against the VooDoo, next plays Thursday at Utah.
"This is a passing league, and our running attack gave us a second dimension," said Storm quarterback Mike Potts, who completed 20 of 35 passes for 165 yards in his first start. "I think that caught New Orleans off guard."
Michael Lindsey sandwiched touchdown runs of 3 yards and 1 yard around a 57-yard kickoff return for a score, and former USF quarterback Grant Gregory scored on runs of 2 yards and 1 yard to lead the Tampa Bay offense, which was outgained 224-168 and withstood three scores by the VooDoo's P.J. Berry, who caught seven passes for 73 yards and finished with 233 all-purpose yards.
The Storm recorded five sacks — four by linebacker Cliff Dukes, who set a single-game franchise record.
Tampa Bay led 33-21 at halftime, but Berry caught a 10-yard pass from Danny Wimprine to get New Orleans within 33-28 late in the third quarter. Lindsey answered with his kickoff return for a touchdown and a 39-28 lead.
"I saw a wall," he said, "then I saw a seam and all I had to do was beat the kicker (Jonathan Ruffin.)"
The VooDoo drove to the Storm 9 early in the fourth, but on fourth and 6 defensive back Erick McIntosh broke up Wimprine's pass to Kris Peters.
New Orleans held Tampa Bay on its next possession and struck on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Wimprine to Berry.
Tampa Bay increased the lead to 46-34 when Lindsey ran 1 yard on fourth down with 56.8 seconds left.
"It seemed like as soon as we got the momentum, we gave it right back to them," New Orleans coach Derek Stingley said. "We need to make better stops. We cannot allow them to continue to run the ball down our throats."
The VooDoo completed the scoring on Berry's 1-yard run on an untimed down after offsetting penalties as time ran out.
"I told our guys that if we didn't turn the ball over, cut down on our mistakes and were more physical then we'd win the game," Ewart said, "and that's how we won."