TAMPA — The Storm had an unusual play work against it in the first quarter of Friday's 46-43 loss to Jacksonville.
QB Brett Dietz overthrew DeAndrew Rubin, and a young fan reached out, deflected the ball off the top of the wall and into the arms of Jacksonville CB Dee Webb. While all the other players on the field walked back to the huddle, Webb returned the interception before being tackled.
The Sharks scored on the ensuing drive.
After the play, the referees conferred at midfield. Storm coach Tim Marcum vehemently argued that the ball was dead, and the fans at the St. Pete Times Forum booed. The referees ruled the play an interception while standing under the JumboTron, which clearly showed the fan interfering with the ball.
"It should have been ruled a dead ball," Storm media relations director Jim Robinson said.
Robinson knew he would get questions about the rule after the game, so he contacted league officials for clarification. They responded via text message during the game and said an error had been made and the play should have been over when the fan interfered with the ball.
"It looked like (the fan) tried to catch it and it hit off his hands, but that's arena football," Dietz said. "It's all a judgement call. There's no replay anymore."
The league approved the use of instant replay for the 2008 postseason, but after the suspension of last season, replay was not brought back.
Immediate Dividends: LB Eric Ortiz, who was signed May 5, made some highlight-reel plays against Jacksonville.
The first came in the third quarter when Ortiz squared up receiver Sale' Key on a crossing route and crushed him. Then, after a fumble on a kickoff in the fourth quarter gave Jacksonville the ball inside the Storm 5-yard line, Ortiz made a diving interception of a ball that ricocheted off the netting.
"He's only going to get better with time," Marcum said.
Getting Comfy: Lakewood product Deonte Bolden will get his third consecutive start in as many career games in the middle of the Storm's defensive backfield against Bossier-Shreveport on Saturday.
After his first two games, the rookie leads the team with seven passes defended, to go along with an interception.
Still Limping: WR Hank Edwards is still nursing a sore right knee and is listed as questionable for the second week in a row.
Edwards was a game-time decision last week, but he started. He caught five passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. He is second on the team in receptions (31), yards (444), touchdowns (eight) and yards per catch (14.3).
Home cooking: The Storm continues to lead the league in attendance, averaging 13,732 through three home games. Arizona is second with 11,760, and Cleveland is third with 11, 688.