TAMPA — Tampa Bay held a chicken wing-eating contest before Friday night's game against Bossier City-Shreveport. Turns out, it was the Storm that did the feasting on the Battle Wings.
Tampa Bay scored on each of its six first-half possessions and got a huge momentum swing near the end of the second quarter, dismantling Bossier City-Shreveport 78-39 in front of 15,808 at the St. Pete Times Forum.
"We got after them pretty good with that second-half pass rush," coach Tim Marcum said. "When we rush the passer like that, good things happen."
Tampa Bay won its sixth in a row, moving atop the South Division by a half-game over Jacksonville. The Sharks host Arizona at 7:05 tonight.
"It feels good," Marcum said. "But we have a long way to go."
Tampa Bay rudely welcomed first-time starter Jimmy Welker to the league. The Storm intercepted three passes, recorded four sacks and forced two Welker fumbles. Every Bossier City (3-9) turnover led to a score.
"It got to where we were hitting (Welker) nearly every play," Marcum said. "He didn't have a chance."
Brett Dietz (22-of-30, 342 yards, eight touchdowns) and the Storm receivers shredded the secondary on their way to a season-best point total. Hank Edwards became the first player in team history to eclipse 200 yards receiving. He finished with 10 catches for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Tyrone Timmons finished with nine catches for 106 yards and five scores.
Dietz hit Edwards, DeAndrew Rubin and Timmons for touchdown passes on the Storm's first three possessions, the final one giving Tampa Bay the lead for good at 21-20 with 12:06 left in the second quarter.
The Storm (8-3) got a safety when defensive lineman Jermaine Smith sacked Welker and the Battle Wings recovered in the end zone. Three plays later, Dietz hit Timmons on a 17-yard score to make it 30-20.
Timmons fumbled inside the Battle Wings' 5 to open the half, but Smith (three sacks) again sacked Welker, forcing a fumble that defensive back Michael Hawthorne returned for a touchdown and 51-27 lead.
"We took over defensively," Marcum said.