Ian Howfield's 23-yard field goal lifts Tampa Bay past Grand Rapids 58-56 and to a .500 record.
By DARRYL MELLEMA
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 24, 2003
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Five years ago, Ian Howfield was in a car crash that required back surgery and seemingly finished his career.
Sunday, Howfield made the winning 23-yard field goal as time expired to give the Storm a 58-56 victory against Grand Rapids. "What I was thinking about before that kick was laying on that hospital bed," Howfield said. "I remember telling myselfthere's no way my career's going to end like this.
"I thought about the battle that it took to get back here. That kept me calm."
Howfield, 36, played five seasons in the Arena Football League before the injury. While away from football, Howfield sold advertising for the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas.
"There's more pressure out there in the corporate world than there is out on the football field," Howfield said.
The Storm ended a two-game losing streak and improved to 2-2 with a three-game homestand up next. It also handed the Rampage its first loss.
"It is a big win to come up here and play in their place in front of their crowd," Tampa Bay coach Tim Marcum said. "This is what Arena football is all about. It kept everybody entertained right down to the last second."
With the score 49-49, Tampa Bay got the ball on downs after Grand Rapids' Clint Dolezel threw an incomplete pass intended for Terrill Shaw.
Tampa Bay scored on the ensuing possession when Basil Proctor ran it in from 3 yards. Howfield missed the extra point.
Grand Rapids took the lead on its next possession when Dolezel hit Shaw for an 11-yard touchdown. Brian Gowins converted the extra point to make it 56-55 with 49 seconds left.
Tampa Bay went the length of the field on the winning drive. The key play was the first, when John Kaleo hit Lawrence Samuels for 35 yards to the Grand Rapids 3. Kaleo was 23-for-36 for 306 yards and three touchdowns.
"Offensively, we felt like we could move on them," Kaleo said. "I'm sure they felt the same way about us."
Twice, Tampa Bay had a 14-point lead, but each time, Grand Rapids rallied. The first time came during the second quarter.
Despite forcing two turnovers and stopping Grand Rapids twice inside the 10, Tampa Bay led only 31-28 at halftime. David White scored on runs of 3 yards and 1 yard, and Kaleo threw two touchdowns.
Clif Dell caught a touchdown from 8 yards, and Freddie Solomon caught one from 27 as Tampa Bay led 28-14.
Strong special-teams play helped Grand Rapids rally. First, Ricky Ross ran it in from the 1. Then the Rampage recovered an onside kick. Grand Rapids tied it on Shaw's 22-yard catch with 28 seconds left in the half. Tampa Bay regained the lead on Howfield's field goal as time expired.
Trailing 49-35, the Rampage scored on a 45-yard touchdown catch by Willie Marshall.
Then Grand Rapids stopped Tampa Bay, the first defensive stop of the game, with 12:36 left. The Rampage converted on a 16-yard touchdown from Dolezel to Shaw to tie at 49.