Tampa Bay never lets Columbus threaten late in a 46-36 victory.
By DARRYL MELLEMA
Published April 26, 2004
COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's not the easiest path that Tampa Bay has set before itself.
But at least the Storm is still on track.
Likely needing to win every remaining game to stretch its string of consecutive playoff appearances to 14, the Storm is 2-for-2. Tampa Bay on Sunday defeated Columbus 46-36 before 15,108 at Nationwide Arena.
Last week, the playoff push began with an overtime victory over Austin.
"We did what we had to do," Storm coach Tim Marcum said.
So instead of talking about its 5-7 record, the team celebrated with comments of "2-0" after the game.
"The big picture is that this is one of five games we have that we have to win," Storm defensive tackle Kelvin Kinney said. "We've got four more left. This was truly a big win."
Next up for the Storm is a trip Sunday to in-state rival Orlando.
"We've just got to come back next week and do the same thing," Storm fullback Andre Bowden said.
The Storm had 15 rushing attempts. Bowden scored twice rushing and had six carries.
"You've got to have that changeup once you get down close to the end zone," Bowden said. "You want to be able to run the ball and score. It's hard to stop us."
The Storm scored on Bowden's 1-yard run to cut the Destroyers lead to 22-17 at halftime.
Tampa Bay took the second-half kickoff and scored when quarterback Shane Stafford went over from 5 yards.
The Storm surge continued when Kinney intercepted Ryan Vena's pass in the end zone for a touchdown. That put the visitors ahead 32-21 with just under 10 minutes to play.
"We were in our "top-secret' defense," Kinney said. "We worked on that play all week. It happened just like we planned it."
"Yeah, it's our top-secret defense where we send our defensive ends out for an interception," Marcum said.
That two-score edge proved key. Columbus scored twice more but Tampa Bay responded each time with a touchdown. First Bowden scored on a 1-yard run, then Freddie Solomon scored on a 17-yard pass from Stafford with 6:04 left.
The Storm won despite losing wide receiver David Saunders, who was ejected with 1:55 left in the first half for pushing a referee after making a reception.
Around the league
ORLANDO 64, DALLAS 49: Joe Hamilton was 17-of-24 for 218 yards and tied a career high with six touchdown passes for the host Predators. Orlando's Kenny McEntyre had his 51st career interception, breaking Durwood Roquemore's league record. Former South Florida quarterback Glen Gauntt was 15-of-24 for 184 yards and two touchdowns for the Destroyers.
ARIZONA 46, INDIANA 43: Sherdrick Bonner was 31-of-44 for 337 yards and six touchdowns for the visiting Rattlers. Former FSU quarterback Adrian McPherson threw a 39-yard touchdown to Jordan Younger and a 2-point conversion pass to Andy McCullough late but the ensuing onside kick attempt went out of bounds.
LOS ANGELES 71, CHICAGO 35: Tony Graziani threw eight touchdowns, four to Chris Jackson, to lead the visiting Avengers.
LAS VEGAS 60, DETROIT 34: Clint Dolezel threw five touchdowns, four to Marcus Nash, to help the host Gladiators snap a four-game losing streak.
SAN JOSE 63, GEORGIA 34: Mark Grieb threw eight touchdowns and James Roe had five catches for 77 yards and three scores for the visiting SaberCats.
NEW ORLEANS 63, AUSTIN 59: John Fitzgerald threw seven scores for the visiting VooDoo.