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Cobras Drop A Heart Breaker To Storm, 58-51 In OT

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TAMPA — Storm quarterback John Kaleotossed seven touchdown passes, the last one to sealthe victory in overtime as the Tampa Bay Storm cameback to defeat the Carolina Cobras 58-51 in front of13,942 Friday night at the Ice Palace.

Harvey Middleton hauled in a 7-yard touchdown passfrom Kaleo to give the Storm a 58-51 advantage inovertime and the Tampa Bay defense sacked Cobrasquarterback Fred McNair on fourth down to secure thewin.

Cornelius White caught a 5-yard touchdown pass fromMcNair to give Carolina a 51-48 lead with eightseconds left in regulation, but Mike Black nailed a43-yard field goal as time expired to send the gameinto overtime.

The game was a seesaw battle with 14 lead changes andtwo ties. Storm offensive specialist James Bowdencaught a career-high 15 passes for 184 yards and fourscores and added a touchdown run to lead Tampa Bay(7-0). Kaleo completed 27 of 36 passes for 295 yardswith two interceptions for the Storm. McNairconnected on 23 of 36 passes for 275 yards and sixtouchdowns, including a 1-yard touchdown run forCarolina. White led the Cobras (4-3) with sevencatches for 100 yards and three touchdowns.

The Storm took the opening kick off and wasted no timegetting on the board as Kaleo hit Bowden with a44-yard strike on the first play of the game to set upa 3-yard touchdown pass to go up 6-0 early in thefirst. But, McNair retaliated with a 38-yard scoringpass to Kotto Cotton to put the Cobras up 7-6 with8:14 left in the quarter.

Carolina had Tampa Bay stopped on their nextpossession, but back-to-back penalties on Cobraslineman Dary Myricks set up a 4-yard touchdown passfrom Kaleo to Pierre Hixon to give the Storm a 12-7advantage. White hauled in a juggling touchdown catchon third and goal from the three to put Carolina backon top, 14-12.

Cobras defensive specialist Corey Johnson picked offKaleo on the Storm?s next possession, setting up a10-yard touchdown pass to White on the Cobras firstplay, but Kaleo found Bowden for a 13-yard scoringpass and a two-point conversion to tie the score at 20with 7:07 left in the second.

Bjorn Nittmo drilled a 28-yard field goal to putCarolina back on top with 59 seconds to go in thehalf, but Kaleo found tight end Mel Agee in the endzone for a 1-yard score on the final play of the halfto give the Storm a 27-23 lead at the break.

The Cobras ate up nearly six minutes on their firstpossession of the second half but Nittmo missed a21-yard field goal attempt that would have closed theStorm lead to one. But, Cotton intercepted Kaleo onTampa?s first play following the miss and McNair hitAaron Bailey for a 16-yard touchdown to put the Cobrasback on top 30-27 with 7:20 left in the third.

Another Storm drive was kept alive with a Cobraspenalty on the next Tampa possession and Kaleo madeCarolina pay with a 5-yard pass to Bowden to put Tampaback in front 34-30 late in the third. Kevin Jacksontook a screen pass and scampered 16 yards down theright sideline to give Carolina a 37-34 edge headinginto the fourth quarter.

Penalties plagued the Cobras again on the next Stormpossession as Cotton was flagged for defensive holdingafter 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 ofthe end zone to put the Storm on top 41-37, but theCobras answered right back with a 1-yard run by McNairto jump back in front 44-41 with 8:48 left.

Bowden added a 6-yard scoring run to put Tampa ahead48-44 with 5:06 left and the Storm defense added ahuge play when they recovered a McNair fumble insidethe Tampa 5-yard line with less than three minutesremaining. The Cobras defense stiffened following thefumble, sacking Kaleo on third and 10, forcing a43-yard field goal attempt by Mike Black, which sailedwide right.

Carolina took over on their own 20-yard line with 40seconds remaining and drove 30-yards in six plays,capped by a 5-yard touchdown grab by White with eightseconds left to give Carolina a 51-48 lead. Bowdenreturned the ensuing kick off to the 13-yard line andKaleo hit Bernard Edwards for a nine-yard gain to theTampa 23-yard line, setting up a 43-yard field goal byBlack 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 NewJersey Gladiators at the Entertainment & Sports Arena.

 Credits

Nate Bordeaux, Reporter

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