The Tampa Bay Storm lost 62-41 Saturday at still-unbeaten Philadelphia 62-41. The Storm had a brief glimmer of hope in the second quarter when they turned a 28-7 deficit into a 28-21 halftime score, but with the ball to start the second half Tampa Bay turned it over on downs quickly.
Randy Hippeard threw for 324 yards and six touchdowns but was harassed all night and sacked four times. Tampa Bay failed to score on five possessions, while the Soul went 9-for-10 on the night. Darius Reynolds caught five touchdown passes and Mykel Benson ran for the other four for Philly.
The Soul (9-0) are the defending champion and have all but locked up the top seed for the Arena playoffs. Tampa Bay (7-2) just needs one win in its final five games to secure the No. 2 spot, or losses by both Baltimore and Cleveland at any point. A top-two finish would secure a home playoff game, something Tampa Bay hasn't enjoyed since 2010.
Joe Hills (pictured) caught 12 passes for 161 yards and four touchdowns, but his fumble helped the Soul get to a 21-7 first quarter lead. Back-to-back sacks led to Tampa Bay giving it up on downs and on the next play Reynolds scored -- Philly's first four touchdowns came on just seven plays -- to make it 28-7.
But then the Storm threatened to make a game of it, as Hills gained 23 yards on 3rd-and-16 and scored from 8 yards away, then Tampa Bay got its only full stop of the night as standout Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh's pass to offensive lineman Keith Newell was incomplete on 4th down at the 2-yard line. Newell had only one career reception (no touchdowns) and whiffed on the ball right in his hands.
Hills scored with :11 left, Anthony Shutt intercepted Raudabaugh (his first in 111 passes) to end the half and the Storm had it to start the third quarter. But Philly re-asserted its dominance, outscoring Tampa Bay 20-7 in the period.
The Storm have a bye before hosting Washington on Saturday, July 1. If Hills catches a touchdown it will tie him for the league's all-time mark of consecutive games with a receiving TD at 78.