Seven TD passes and 240 combined return yards break Florida 63-41.
By FRANK PASTOR
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 15, 2001
TAMPA -- The Florida Bobcats should have known better. You never follow a quarterback named Foggie into a Storm.
Rickey Foggie passed for six touchdowns, but they were no match for the offensive maelstrom Tampa Bay created in its regular-season opener Saturday at the Ice Palace.
John Kaleo threw seven touchdowns, and James Bowden set team records for kickoff return yards and combined returned yards as the Storm smothered the Bobcats 63-41 before 10,123.
Bernard Edwards added three touchdown receptions against his former team, as Tampa Bay won an opener for the first time in three seasons.
"We called the first play for him tonight to get him some sweet revenge, and I just kept feeding him the ball," Kaleo said. "He stepped it up. He played huge tonight."
The victory, Tampa Bay's 15th over Florida in 16 tries, was the Storm's 50th regular-season home win, an AFL first. With five more wins, Tampa Bay can become the first team in league history to win 100 regular-season games.
But the number that most concerned the Storm was three. That's the number of losses with which it began last season, most in franchise history.
Tampa Bay appeared headed for another slow start, as Curtis Ceasar's four first-half touchdowns put the Bobcats ahead 27-21 with 6:40 left in the half.
But the Storm, coming off its fourth undefeated preseason in team history, scored 28 straight points over 9:14 of the second and third quarters to take control.
Bowden finished with 228 kickoff return and 240 combined return yards, breaking the mark of 195 he set last year at Carolina.
"We had outstanding field position on the kickoff returns," Storm coach Tim Marcum said. "We probably didn't have much offense, because he had it all running the kicks back."
Bowden's 29-yard return late in the second quarter set up the go-ahead touchdown.
Taking over at the Florida 21, Tampa Bay needed three plays to score, with Kaleo's 10-yard pass to Edwards giving the Storm a 28-27 lead with 5:09 left in the half.
After Florida failed to score, Kaleo found Bowden over the middle for a 10-yard touchdown and an eight-point lead.
Tampa Bay scored twice in 1:27 of the second half to put away the game.
Edwards' 10-yard reception 1:07 into the third quarter gave the Storm a 42-27 lead. After a Harvey Middleton interception ended Florida's next possession, Andre Bowden scored on a 9-yard run to give the Storm a 49-27 advantage.