BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Brigade played its first ever home game at the Royal Farms Arena against the Tampa Bay Storm and lost off a last-second storm touchdown, 62-55, on Sunday, May 7.
Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard earned game MVP honors and AFL Offensive Player of the Week after completing over 77 percent of his passes, throwing eight touchdowns for 285 yards and no interceptions. This is the second week in a row Hippeard has led the Storm to a win after falling behind to lead his team to their second come-from-behind victory in their last two games.
Hippeard is also the first player to win multiple Player of the Week awards this season.
Just over a minute into the the game, Tampa Bay scored when Hippeard connected with receiver Joe hills for a 15-yard touchdown to give them a 7-0 lead. Baltimore responded on its opening possession after fullback Rory Nixon punched the ball into the end zone from 1-yard out, scoring the first ever Brigade touchdown at home. However, the PAT was missed. Baltimore then trailed 7-6.
Storm defensive back Paul Stevens earned Defensive Player of the Week after his performance against the Brigade, recording seven tackles and recovering two fumbles, one for a touchdown. In the second quarter, Stevens recovered a fumble from Brigade receiver Justin Williams and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown to extend the Storm’s lead to 27-13 with 5:17 left in the first half.
Tampa Bay led Baltimore at the half, 34-20. Brigade quarterback Shane Carden engineered a drive to open the second half that led to a 12-yard touchdown pass to receiver Paul Browning to make it 34-26.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball hit the net and landed awkwardly into Storm kick returner Kendrick Ings’ hands. Ings fumbled the return in the Storm end zone, where Brigade defensive back Trey Wolfe landed on the ball for the special teams touchdown. On the ensuing PAT, backup quarterback Shane Cartwright mishandled the ball, but picked it up and ran into the end zone for the two-point conversion. The game was tied at 34-34 with under-10 left in the third quarter.
After everything was tied at 41-all heading into the fourth quarter, Brigade receiver Paul Browning caught a touchdown three minutes into the period to give Baltimore its first lead of the game, 48-41. Tampa Bay responded to tie things up at 48-apiece, using a screen to put 6-foot-5, 310-pound lineman Leonardo Bates into the end zone, untouched.
On the next Brigade drive, Williams fumbled the ball again in Storm territory. That turnover led to Hills’ fourth touchdown of the game to put the Storm back on top, 54-48 with 6:10 left in regulation.
Carden and the Brigade offense would not fold, as Cardin and Browning connected for their third touchdown of the second half that capped a five-minute drive. With the successful PAT, the Brigade led, 55-54, at the one-minute warning.
That’s when Tampa Bay answered with a touchdown with just five seconds left in the game when Hippeard found receiver LaMark Brown for a 3-yard catch-and-score to put the Brigade away and seal a 62-55 Storm victory.
“Early on this year we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot, we had a couple of turnovers early, and late in the game that we cant have,” Brigade receiver Julian Talley. “If we get rid of those mistakes it’s a whole new ball game.”