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Tampa Bay takes out Georgia

Shane Stafford, Ernest Certain and Lawrence Samuels make key plays during the fourth quarter.

By KEVIN BARNES
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 30, 2002


ATLANTA -- Shane Stafford threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns and Ernest Certain and Lawrence Samuels made late defensive plays to lift Tampa Bay to a 50-40 victory over Georgia on Saturday.

Stafford, subbing for the injured Scott Milanovich, threw touchdowns of 14 yards to Alvin Ashley with 13:22 left and 7 yards to Keita Crespina with 4:37 left as the Storm rallied from a 33-28 third-quarter deficit.

Tampa Bay's playoff hopes remained alive as it improved to 4-7.

Certain blocked a 34-yard Matt Huerkamp field goal with 8:35 left in the game that would have tied the score at 36.

With 5:13 left, Samuels recovered a fumble on a kickoff after Basil Proctor's 1-yard touchdown run.

"In a big game like this, teams scoring back and forth, any turnovers are big," Samuels said. "Fortunately, we got the fumble recovery and we were able to control the game at the end."

Stafford was 26-of-41 for 227 yards. He threw five touchdowns and one interception.

"You just have to be ready to play when the coach calls your number," Stafford said. "Truthfully, I don't think I played as well as I'm capable of. As a team, we made the plays when we needed to to win this game, though."

Stafford gave the Storm a 28-20 lead with a 3-yard touchdown to Calvin Schexnayder.

But the Force scored on its next possession on a 45-yard reception by Tyronne Jones.

Stafford completed four consecutive passes to the Force 18 on the next possession but then threw four consecutive incompletions.

Georgia (4-7) took possession and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a Jarrick Hillery 27-yard reception.

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