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Comeback Comes Up Short In Inaugural Home Opener

May 7, 2017
The Baltimore Brigade (1-3) fell, 62-55, to the Tampa Bay Storm (3-1) Sunday afternoon at Royal Farms Arena in what was the team’s first-ever home game. Despite a comeback-leading, six-touchdown performance from Brigade rookie QB Shane Carden, the Storm took the win on a tie-breaking touchdown with just five seconds remaining.

“We really wanted to get that win,” Carden said. “It was a great atmosphere – we hope to get a ton of these people back next time out.”

Tampa Bay QB Randy Hippeard, the game’s MVP completed 31/40 passes for 285 yards and eight touchdowns. Carden finished with six touchdowns, the most by an AFL rookie since 2015, on his way to Offensive Player of the Game honors. Carden also tallied 355 passing yards, the most by an AFL rookie since 2012. Baltimore WRs Paul Browning and Julian Talley combined for 17 receptions, 287 yards and six touchdowns.

The Storm got on the board first with 12:57 remaining in the first quarter, when Hippeard, who entered Week 5 leading the AFL in nearly all major passing categories, found WR Joe Hills for a 15-yard touchdown to give Tampa Bay a 7-0 lead. The Brigade answered on their next drive when FB Rory Nixon powered his way into the endzone on a one-yard rush. After a missed PAT, Baltimore trailed 7-6 with 8:26 remaining in the opening frame.

Talley built on last week’s 123-yard, two-touchdown performance with what was his best game of the season. Talley crossed the 100-yard threshold in the first half, including scores of six and 34 yards. However, four Hippeard passing touchdowns and a fumble recovered and returned 46 yards for a touchdown gave the Storm a 34-20 lead at halftime.

Two consecutive Brigade touchdowns to start the second half tied the game at 34 with 9:32 left in the third quarter. Hippeard’s fifth touchdown of the day gave the Storm a one-score lead, though Baltimore answered just over a minute later when Carden found Julian Talley for a 45-yard, game-tying score with 2:29 left in the third quarter. Browning, however, sparked the Brigade offense in the second half, gathering all three of his touchdowns after halftime on his way to a 12-reception, 138-yard performance. His touchdown with 0:58 seconds remaining tied the game at 55, but Tampa Bay answered with just five seconds left in the game when Hippeard found Brown for both a three-yard touchdown to seal a 62-55 victory.