The Tampa Bay Storm accomplished something that has never been done before in the history of the Arena Football League on March 16, winning their 200th game in franchise history with a 50-47 victory over the Georgia Force.
Led by another outstanding performance by the Offensive Player of the Game and the game's MVP, wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez, the Storm (1-1) held off a late Force (1-1) rally in the fourth quarter to post their first win of the season.
Rodriguez continues to set the Arena Football League on fire. A week after posting 12 receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns against the Chicago Rush in his AFL debut, the 6-foot-4 212-pound Tampa native continued raising eyebrows on NET10 Arena Football Friday with 11 receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown against Georgia.
Storm quarterback Steven Wasil, on the heels of scoring seven touchdowns against Chicago, tallied five more against the Force, throwing four scoring passes and running the fifth in himself. Wasil threw for 298 yards in the game, suffering two interceptions, and picking up an additional nine yards on the ground.
Georgia couldn't get its offense in gear for the first three quarters, scoring only 20 points in the first three frames, six of which came from a 57-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by C.J. Johnson after Tampa Bay's first score. The Force's first three drives stalled out with two missed field goals by Carlos Martinez, who continues to have a frustrating start to the season, and an interception.
Darnell Kennedy struggled at the quarterback position, completing only 3-of-11 passes for one interception before being relieved by R.J. Archer late in the second quarter. Archer didn't get off to a particularly stellar start, either, and by the time he got the offense in a groove, the Force were trailing 34-13 in the third quarter.
Georgia rallied for 27 points in the fourth quarter--more than they scored in the first three periods combined--and closed the gap on Tampa Bay when Storm kicker Juan Bongarra missed a field goal and Wasil fumbled the ball away while trying to run out the clock.
The Force's last-gasp onside kicks, however, were twice recovered by Rodriguez, and Tampa was eventually able to run the clock out to post their historic victory in front of their home crowd on national television.
Larry Shipp led the Force with nine receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns, while Brandon McRae had a big game with seven catches for 87 yards and three scores. Defensive back Tracy Belton is off to a scorching start to the season, recording five tackles, one for a loss, a pass break-up, an interception, and a fumble recovery in the game, bringing his two-game takeaway total to five.
The Storm take a breather in Week 3 while the Force travel to take on the defending league champion Jacksonville Sharks (1-0) on March 24.
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