The 65-61 loss frustrated Power Head Coach Derek Stingley as the Power had control of the game the vast majority of the time.
“That was a tough loss,” Stingley said. “This loss is going to hurt more than any because this team in my opinion has truly turned the corner of becoming a pretty competitive team.”
The Power won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Storm capitalized when quarterback Nick Hill threw a 10 yard touchdown pass to Prechae Rodriguez to open with a 7-0 lead.
The Storm immediately had an onside kick, and they recovered however, it was not within the 10 yards the ball needed to be kicked in. Thus the Power started with solid field position and they were helped by the Storm committing several penalties. P.J. Berry ended up scoring a one yard touchdown to tie the score.
The next Storm drive was an interception from Christian Wise. Power fans may remember Wise for his game winning touchdown catch when the Power completed a 31 point comeback to defeat the Orlando Predators. Wise spent time on the IR and having been in the league was able to play wide receiver as well as defensive back. With the wide receiver position full, Wise was placed on defense.
Another short field resulted in Tyre Young’s seventh rushing touchdown of the season.
For the remainder of the half, the teams matches scores although the Power continued to have kicking issues as Geoff Boyer did his best Mike Vanderjagt attempt by missing an extra point attempt well to the right in the second quarter. In addition, the next kick was blocked and returned giving the Storm an additional two points.
Midway through the second quarter Hill went down for the Storm with an injury and Stephen Wasil came in. While having a backup in can go either way, Wasil already had 55 touchdowns on the season coming into the game, and when he came in, the offense was in much greater sync.
Down 30-26 with around half a minute left in the second quarter, the Power had a drive that ended in an A.J. Jackson five yard touchdown reception. It was Jackson’s only catch of the game but an important one as the Power led 33-30 at the half.
“We had the lead and knowing we would come back with the ball was huge,” Stingley said. “We could make it a two possession game and put them in a deficit. That’s A.J’s signature play he’d get up and get the ball at its highest point.”
The Power did start out quickly as Hines found Mike Washington for his second of three touchdown receptions. This gave the Power a 40-30 lead. Washington finished with 10 receptions for 126 yards in addition to the three scores.
The Power had all kind of opportunities in the third quarter with included two additional interceptions from Wise, one of which was returned for a touchdown were negated because of penalties.
“You’re always fighting against the refs when you’re playing in this game and this isn’t my first rodeo so I am used to it, but it happens,” Wise said. “All you can do is wipe it out and move on to the next down.”
This as well as two Hines interceptions kept the Storm in the game.
Also keeping the Storm in the game was wide receiver Joe Hills. Hills scored three of his four touchdowns in the second half and had 160 receiving yards.
At the end of three quarters, the Power led 47-44.
In the fourth quarter, the teams continued trading scores. The Power elected to go for an onside kick up 61-58. The Storm recovered and set up their offense deep in Power territory.
They made the Power burn their final timeouts before Wasil ran in for the touchdown. Kicker Juan Bongarra’s extra point meant that the Storm had a 65-61 lead.
Following Berry’s 28 yard kickoff return to the Power 22, Hines started to lead the offense down the field. A pass to Washington brought the Power to the Storm 4 with enough time to run two or three plays.
On the first play, Hines took his time in the pocket before throwing the ball off the netting incomplete with one second left on the clock. With the Power lined up and ready to go, the Storm called a timeout.
The Power came out of the timeout with a plan in place however when Hines dropped back, he had time and his pass intended for Berry was incomplete. Hines threw the ball to the right corner of the end zone while Berry waited before running a slant pattern towards the middle of the field.
The buzzer sounded and the Power had lost. Stingley explained the play call.
“It was a play action to Oderick Turner,” Stingley said. “We were giving him the option to go either left or right. PJ’s route was more of a delay so he could wait and read the coverage and then go. Unfortunately we didn’t connect. I see the play in my head and I can’t say if Andrico was either too slow or P.J. was too fast. It’s a play we run a lot.”
Upon realizing they lost, the mood in the locker room was a 360 from last week’s celebration after winning.
“It was frustrating,” Wise said. “It’s been a long season and we wanted to finish out strong, and we still do, we still have the goal to do that. It does take a shot to the heart, especially with a tough loss like this. Guys were out there trying to give it their all and finish but we fell short and have to get ready for the next game and that’s Georgia.”
. By playing the Storm, the Power played the team that used to reside in Pittsburgh. The Storm were known as the Gladiators before the name change. They made their first trip back to Pittsburgh since 1990.
. Storm quarterback Nick Hill was injured with a right ankle injury. I saw him after the game hobbling and on crutches. Hill was in good spirits but it looks to be a long term injury.
. P.J. Berry’s mother was definitely enjoying herself at the game dancing during the TV timeouts. They showed her dancing on jumbotron before cutting to Berry on the sidelines shaking his head and smiling.
. Here is an update from Stingley on Coach Tomczak’s involvement in the Power offense: “I’m still very instrumental in play calling,” Stingley said. “He’s been interjecting and giving his thoughts on what we can run and it’s good stuff. He’s starting to realize what this league is about on the offensive side of the ball.
. The Power have two games remaining in their regular season schedule. The first will be played Saturday when the Power visit Georgia to take on the Force. Game time is 7:00. The final game of the season will be played at home Friday July 20 against the Jacksonville Sharks with a kickoff of 8 PM.
Power vs Tampa Bay Storm Scoring 7.7.12
Storm: Rodriguez 10 yard pass from Hill (Bongarra kick good) 7-0 12:27
Power: Berry 1 yard run (Boyer kick good) 7-7 8:50
Power: Young 2 yard run (Boyer kick good) 14-7 4:52
Storm: Hills 3 yard pass from Hill (Bongarra kick good) 14-14 13:40
Power: Berry 16 yard pass from Hines (Boyer kick not even close) 20-14 11:11
Storm: Lindsey 2 yard pass from Wasil (Bongarra kick good) 21-20
Power: Washington 26 yard pass from Hines (Boyer kick blocked and 2 point conversion for Storm is good) 26-23 4:25
Storm: Lindsey 8 yard pass from Wasil (Bongarra kick good) 30-26 0:35
Power: Jackson pass from Hines (Boyer kick good) 33-30
Power: Washington 15 yard pass from Hines (Boyer kick good) 40-30
Storm: Hill pass from Wasil (Bongarra kick good) 40-37 10:03
Storm: Hills 16 yard pass from Wasil (Bongarra kick good) 44-40
Power: Washington 4 yard pass from Hines (Boyer kick good) 47-44 4:39
Storm: Kaleita 1 yard run (Bongarra kick good) 51-47 10:15
Power: Berry 14 yard pass from Hines (Boyer kick good) 54-51 6:52
Storm: Hill 8 yard pass from Wasil (Bongarra kick good) 58-54 5:36
Power: Turner 15 yard pass from Hines (Boyer kick good) 61-58 1:06
Storm: Wasil 1 yard run (Bongarra kick good) 65-61 0:36
MVP: Joe Hills- WR Storm
Offensive Player of the Game: Hills
Defensive Player of the Game: Christian Wise
Cutters Catch of the Game: A.J. Jackson catch as horn sounded ending first half
Ironman of the game: P.J. Berry
American Conference East Division Standings
Philadelphia Soul 14-3 (clinched home field)
Cleveland Gladiators 7-9
Milwaukee Mustangs 5-11
Pittsburgh Power 4-12