The Tampa Bay Storm (6-1) did both themselves and the Philadelphia Soul a favor on Saturday night, as they beat the Baltimore Brigade (2-5) 47-35. The win means the Soul are the first team to secure a playoff spot.
While the game started on shaky ground, Randy Hippeard checked one major item off the to-do list, finding Joe Hills for the first score of the night, extending Hills’ touchdown streak to 75 games (three shy of tying the all-time record), but Mark Lewis missed the extra point wide right to keep the score at 6-0.
Tampa Bay had a good start on defense when Dexter Jackson sacked Baltimore quarterback Shane Carden on their first drive, but Carden’s scrambling ability allowed him to keep a play alive and find Milton Williams in the end zone for a one-point lead.
The Storm quickly answered with a little more history, as Hills, who nearly scored on a 44-yard catch, scored on his first career touchdown run to retake the lead.
The Storm took command after recovering a Carden fumbled snap, as LaMark Brown scored to make it 20-7. While the Brigade kept the game close after a Rory Nixon touchdown, Kendrick Ings got in the end zone to keep a two-score lead. LaRoche Jackson, in just his second game with the team, broke up a pass at the end of the half to prevent a touchdown.
Tampa Bay got an immediate boost on the kickoff, as Alvin Ray Jackson recovered the ball off the upright and ran into the end zone for a 33-14 lead. Brandon Thompkins provided a little magic, spinning away from three defenders to break open a 45-yard catch and run for a touchdown. When Qumain Black intercepted Hippeard in the end zone and ran the ball back into Storm territory, They quickly cashed in to get back within five at 33-28 thanks to a Julian Talley touchdown.
With the game close, the Storm sealed things in the fourth quarter, starting with a Hippeard to Ings touchdown, then following that with their first fourth-down stop in four games.
Joe Hills completed his hat trick to give Tampa Bay a three-score lead, and despite a late Talley touchdown, the Storm finished out the game and took one step closer to clinching their own playoff spot.
At 6-1, the Storm stay within reach of Philadelphia and hold down a spot for a home playoff game. Next week, the five-game win streak will be on the line against the Washington Valor. Kickoff is set for Saturday, June 10 at 7 p.m. ET, and the game will air live on CBS Sports Network.