Cobras Drop A Heart Breaker To Storm, 58-51 In OT
Posted June 4, 2001 6:59 a.m. EDT
TAMPA — Storm quarterback John Kaleo tossed seven touchdown passes, the last one to seal the victory in overtime as the Tampa Bay Storm came back to defeat the Carolina Cobras 58-51 in front of 13,942 Friday night at the Ice Palace.
Harvey Middleton hauled in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Kaleo to give the Storm a 58-51 advantage in overtime and the Tampa Bay defense sacked Cobras quarterback Fred McNair on fourth down to secure the win.
Cornelius White caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from McNair to give Carolina a 51-48 lead with eight seconds left in regulation, but Mike Black nailed a 43-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime.
The game was a seesaw battle with 14 lead changes and two ties. Storm offensive specialist James Bowden caught a career-high 15 passes for 184 yards and four scores and added a touchdown run to lead Tampa Bay (7-0). Kaleo completed 27 of 36 passes for 295 yards with two interceptions for the Storm. McNair connected on 23 of 36 passes for 275 yards and six touchdowns, including a 1-yard touchdown run for Carolina. White led the Cobras (4-3) with seven catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns.
The Storm took the opening kick off and wasted no time getting on the board as Kaleo hit Bowden with a 44-yard strike on the first play of the game to set up a 3-yard touchdown pass to go up 6-0 early in the first. But, McNair retaliated with a 38-yard scoring pass to Kotto Cotton to put the Cobras up 7-6 with 8:14 left in the quarter.
Carolina had Tampa Bay stopped on their next possession, but back-to-back penalties on Cobras lineman Dary Myricks set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from Kaleo to Pierre Hixon to give the Storm a 12-7 advantage. White hauled in a juggling touchdown catch on third and goal from the three to put Carolina back on top, 14-12.
Cobras defensive specialist Corey Johnson picked off Kaleo on the Storm?s next possession, setting up a 10-yard touchdown pass to White on the Cobras first play, but Kaleo found Bowden for a 13-yard scoring pass and a two-point conversion to tie the score at 20 with 7:07 left in the second.
Bjorn Nittmo drilled a 28-yard field goal to put Carolina back on top with 59 seconds to go in the half, but Kaleo found tight end Mel Agee in the end zone for a 1-yard score on the final play of the half to give the Storm a 27-23 lead at the break.
The Cobras ate up nearly six minutes on their first possession of the second half but Nittmo missed a 21-yard field goal attempt that would have closed the Storm lead to one. But, Cotton intercepted Kaleo on Tampa?s first play following the miss and McNair hit Aaron Bailey for a 16-yard touchdown to put the Cobras back on top 30-27 with 7:20 left in the third.
Another Storm drive was kept alive with a Cobras penalty on the next Tampa possession and Kaleo made Carolina pay with a 5-yard pass to Bowden to put Tampa back in front 34-30 late in the third. Kevin Jackson took a screen pass and scampered 16 yards down the right sideline to give Carolina a 37-34 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
Penalties plagued the Cobras again on the next Storm possession as Cotton was flagged for defensive holding after a third down pass attempt fell incomplete, giving Tampa a first and goal inside the 10 yard line. Kaleo found Bowden for a diving catch in the back of the end zone to put the Storm on top 41-37, but the Cobras answered right back with a 1-yard run by McNair to jump back in front 44-41 with 8:48 left.
Bowden added a 6-yard scoring run to put Tampa ahead 48-44 with 5:06 left and the Storm defense added a huge play when they recovered a McNair fumble inside the Tampa 5-yard line with less than three minutes remaining. The Cobras defense stiffened following the fumble, sacking Kaleo on third and 10, forcing a 43-yard field goal attempt by Mike Black, which sailed wide right.
Carolina took over on their own 20-yard line with 40 seconds remaining and drove 30-yards in six plays, capped by a 5-yard touchdown grab by White with eight seconds left to give Carolina a 51-48 lead. Bowden returned the ensuing kick off to the 13-yard line and Kaleo hit Bernard Edwards for a nine-yard gain to the Tampa 23-yard line, setting up a 43-yard field goal by Black to send the game into overtime.
Carolina returns to Eastern Division play next Friday, June 8, 7:30 p.m. with a showdown against the New Jersey Gladiators at the Entertainment & Sports Arena.