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Last-minute TDs propel Storm

Bowden and Agee get fourth-quarter TDs to lift Tampa Bay 45-40.

[Times photo: Toni Sandys]
Storm defensive lineman Mel Agee holds the football aloft after scoring on a fourth-quarter touchdown on a fumble return.

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 22, 2001


TAMPA -- Nashville's Andy Kelly became Arena Football's all-time touchdown leader Saturday night, a monumental moment for the quarterback, but an ill-timed one.

Kelly's record-setter came with just over three minutes remaining, leaving the Storm plenty of time to come back and win 45-40 before 10,530 fans at the Ice Palace.

In that three minutes, John Kaleo threw a touchdown pass to James Bowden with 38 seconds remaining, and on the next Nashville play Kelly was stripped of the ball and Storm lineman Mel Agee dribbled it once and bounded into the end zone to put away the Kats in dramatic fashion.

"I just saw the ball, slapped it down and ran it in," Agee said. "But Pig (Goff) knocked the ball out. That was all Pig."

The Storm (2-0) took sole possession of first place in the Southern Division by defeating Nashville (1-1) for the fifth straight time. As it usually is against Nashville, though, it wasn't easy. The contest was the sixth in nine games between the teams decided by a touchdown or less (thanks to Darryl Hammond's touchdown off the nets at the buzzer).

The biggest play of the game was a near nightmare. After Kelly's 6-yarder to Hammond -- the 342nd touchdown pass of his career -- gave the Kats a 33-31 lead, Kaleo threw two incomplete passes to set up third and 10 at the 9.

The next play, he fumbled the snap. Coolly picking the ball up after a few bounces, Kaleo threw to Bowden for a first down.

"Unbelievable," coach Tim Marcum said. "He fumbles the snap, picks it up, and throws a 10-and-a-quarter-yard pass to Bowden who makes the catch against the boards.."

Kaleo then found Bowden for 15 and 14 yards -- the latter play putting them ahead for good. That play was supposed to be a quick 7-yard pass and Bowden was supposed to hit the deck as the Storm was playing for a winning field goal. But he found a seam and scooted into the end zone, giving Nashville a chance to win.

That chance was stripped away by Goff and made a winner of the Storm despite a rough outing by Kaleo. Playing with a sore thumb, he completed 21 of his 44 attempts for 239 yards. He underthrew a slew of open receivers.

* * *

Nashville 14 7 3 16-40

Tampa Bay 7 14 3 21-45

* * *

Nv-Grant 3 run (McLaughlin kick)

TB-Middleton 18 pass from Kaleo (Black kick)

Nv-Jones 36 pass from Kelly (McLaughlin kick)

TB-J. Bowden 5 pass from Kaleo (Black kick)

Nv-Jones 12 pass from Kelly (McLaughlin kick)

TB-Wilson 14 pass from Kaleo (Black kick)

Nv-McLaughlin 35 FG

TB-Black 38 FG

Nv-McLaughlin 19 FG.

TB-Edwards 15 pass from Kaleo (Black kick)

Nv-Hammond 6 pass from Kelly (kick failed)

TB-J. Bowden 14 pass from Kaleo (Black kick)

TB-Agee 2 fumble recovery (Black kick)

Nv-Hammond 26 pass from Kelly (McLaughlin kick).

XFL Championship

L.A. 38, SAN FRANCISCO 6: Former NFL backup Tommy Maddox threw two touchdowns and Jose Cortez, a roofer from Oregon, kicked four field goals as the host Xtreme won the league's inaugural title.

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