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It's thrilling, but not for Storm

Refusing to be stopped a yard short of the end zone on the final play of regulation, Storm receiver Lawrence Samuels powered through defensive back Jermaine Mays and reached the ball across the goal line as time expired.

Samuels' 22-yard catch set up quarterback Shane Stafford's tying two-point conversion run, but there was nothing Samuels could do to straighten Bill Gramatica's 39-yard field goal attempt in overtime or stop Jay Taylor's winning 18-yard kick.

Despite battling back from deficits of 26 points in the second quarter and 19 in the fourth, the Storm fell 67-64 to the Predators in one of the most exciting games in Arena football's longest-running rivalry.

"As long as we have the effort to come back and fight and play hard, we'll be all right," Samuels said. "It's disappointing that we did fall short, but the turnovers hurt us."

The Storm committed four, two that went for Orlando touchdowns, as its league-high 12-game home win streak was snapped before an announced 14,692 Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Orlando won for the first time in five games in Tampa and for just the second time in seven meetings in the series, now tied at 19.

Neither Stafford's eight touchdown passes nor the return of coach Tim Marcum after a three-game suspension could keep the Storm (2-2) from falling one game behind the Predators (3-1) and two behind Southern Division-leading Austin (4-0), which visits next weekend.

"That just means that it ain't easy," Storm receiver/linebacker Bobby Sippio said. "It's the beginning of the season. You win some, you lose some. But we've got to take those losses to the heart and really come out and work hard, next week especially."

Orlando appeared to have the game in hand when former USF receiver DeAndrew Rubin caught a 26-yard touchdown from ex-Buc Joe Hamilton for a 61-42 lead with 11 minutes, 32 seconds to play.

The Storm clawed back to 64-56 on Sippio's 3-yard catch with 39 seconds left, but Orlando's Kenny McEntyre recovered Gramatica's onside kick at the Tampa Bay 14.

Three running plays gained no yards, and Taylor missed a 23-yard field goal with 13 seconds left, giving the Storm one last chance. Tampa Bay drove 35 yards on three plays and tied the game on Samuels' catch and Stafford's conversion run.

Tampa Bay got the ball first in overtime, but poor protection stalled the drive at the Orlando 23, and Gramatica missed wide right from 39 yards.

The Predators converted two third downs on their overtime possession, and Jerrian James' 6-yard reception to the Storm 2 set up Taylor's winning 18-yard kick, the second of five attempts he converted.

"I was pretty mad at myself for missing the short ones earlier," Taylor said. "I knew if I got another chance, regardless how long it was, I'd kick it through."

Orlando used a 26-0 run in the first and second quarters to take a commanding 33-7 lead.

After Clif Dell's 14-yard reception gave the Predators a 14-7 lead, the Storm lost the ball on downs or turnovers on three straight possessions.

Three plays after Ronney Daniels was ruled out of bounds on what would have been a fourth-down catch, Jimmy Fryzel caught an 8-yard touchdown to put Orlando ahead 20-7.

When Ordway misplayed the ensuing kickoff off the net, Dell grabbed it at the Storm 4 and ran it into the end zone. McEntyre stripped the ball from Samuels on Tampa Bay's next possession and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown and the 33-7 Orlando lead.