The San Antonio Talons entered Saturday's game as the hottest team in the Arena Football League, having reeled off seven straight victories. The Storm went in as the AFL's lone undefeated team at home.
Something had to give, and it did. In a big way.
The Talons outscored Tampa Bay 30-7 in the second quarter and cruised from there, winning 77-56 before 9,328 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"You can't play the way we did against good teams like that," Storm coach Dave Ewart said. "We had guys showing up in the third quarter wanting to knock guys out. Where was that in the first two quarters?"
The loss put a damper on Tampa Bay's (6-8) wild-card hopes with four games left, two of them at home. Cleveland lost to fall to 6-8, but Jacksonville and New Orleans won, improving to 7-7.
Georgia (7-7) played at Utah later Saturday.
"I ain't worried about the playoffs," Ewart said. "We've got to worry about winning a game."
Things for the Storm started going downhill midway through the second quarter.
Shortly after the Talons' Dwight McLean intercepted a Nick Hill pass off the netting in the end zone, Jason Willis caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Garcia (eight TD passes) to give San Antonio (11-3) the lead for good at 20-14.
"You can't have balls bounce off receivers' hands like that," Ewart said. "Those balls have to be caught."
On the next possession, Hill, who threw for 353 yards to pass 10,000 for his career, was called for intentional grounding, resulting in a safety. Jomo Wilson hauled in the second of his four touchdown catches, an 18-yarder, on San Antonio's next possession.
The Talons recovered the ensuing fumbled kickoff. That led to another Wilson TD, an 8-yarder, and in just under six minutes, San Antonio had turned a one-point deficit into a 22-point lead.
"Too many mistakes," said Ewart, whose team didn't get closer than 15 the rest of the way.
Hill, making his first home start, finished 28-for-42 with five passing TDs and two rushing. Former USF receiver Amarri Jackson caught nine passes for 105 yards and three TDs, and former FSU player De'Cody Fagg added 10 catches for 127 yards and one score.
Things don't get easier for the Storm, which hosts the AFL's top team, Philadelphia (11-3), on Friday. The Soul embarrassed Tampa Bay 83-48 on April 20.
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Storm vs. Philadelphia
7:30 p.m. Friday; Tampa Bay Times Forum