Wranglers lose to Storm, 54-42
The Wranglers looked to rack up a Week 12 win as they hosted the Tampa Bay Storm on Sunday. They lost to the Storm earlier this season and hoped to get a division win in their second meeting.
QB John Fitzgerald went 17-for-32 for 216 yards with four touchdowns and an interception. Tampas QB, Shane Stafford, went 25 for 41 for 207 yards and five touchdowns. Tampa Bays Lawrence Samuels received Offensive Player of the Game honors, Jonathan Ordway was ADT Defensive Player of the Game, while Lynarios Elpheage was selected as U.S. Army Ironman of the Game.
The opening kickoff was mishandled by Ira Gooch but the Wranglers got back on track as John Fitzgerald took them 49 yards on eight plays. It took two run attempts, but rookie Henry Bryant got the ball in and Todd Sievers converted the point after to make the score 7-0.
Tampa Bay went 46 yards on four plays and the drive was capped off by a two-yard touchdown pass from Shane Stafford to Lynarios Elpheage. Matt Georges kick attempt was good and the score was evened at 7-7.
On their next drive, Fitzgerald found Greg Brown for a career high 28-yard reception. With a first and goal situation, Fitzgerald found Angel Rubio on a five yard pass for his second touchdown of the season. Seivers kick made the score 14-7. Tampa mishandled the kickoff and Dane Krager recovered the ball on the Tampa Bay one-yard line. Bryant ran the ball in for his 10th touchdown of the season to make the score 21-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter began with Stafford finding WR/LB Lawrence Samuels on a four-yard pass to bring the Storm within a touchdown. They then stopped the Wranglers offense as Fitzgerald was picked off by Jonathan Ordway at the Austin 20-yard line. The Storm had to settle for a George field goal to make the score 21-17 in favor of the Wranglers.
Fitzgerald got the Austin offense going again on the next drive as he took the Wranglers five plays for 43 yards. Krager dove into the end zone after a 12 yard pass from Fitzgerald and Sievers kick put the Wranglers up by 11. When the Storm got the ball back, Stafford again found Samuels despite defensive pressure from the Austin rush. This brought the Storm within four points again, and the Wranglers had 22 seconds to get down the field before the half. Austin got to the Tampa Bay 24 yard line and with four seconds left, Sievers attempted a field goal that went wide right to end the half with the score at 28-24 in favor of Austin.
Tampa Bay started with the ball in the second half and ate up nine and a half minutes of the third quarter. Stafford finally found Samuels for his third touchdown of the day. Georges kick was good and Tampa went ahead by three points.
It took less time for Fitzgerald to find Gooch on a 37-yard pass for his first touchdown of the day. Sievers kick made the score 35-31 in favor of the Wranglers. On the kickoff Freddie Solomon, returned the ball 29-yards to put Tampa in Wrangler territory. With the clock running out, Jarrod Penright ran the ball one yard for a touchdown and Georges kick was good to make the score 38-35, in favor of the Storm, at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was riddled with penalties by both teams. The Wranglers had the ball first and after four plays and 45 yards, Fitzgerald found Gooch in the endzone for a score. This put the Wranglers up by four once again, but on Tampas next drive, Stafford found Solomon again to make the score 45-42 in the Storms favor.
The kickoff took a hard bounce off the net and the Wranglers could not handle it. The Storm recovered the ball on the Austin one. After a previous unsportsmanlike penalty took the Storm back 10 yards, Rubio put pressure on Stafford and the Wranglers held the Storm to force a field goal.
Georges kick was good and the Storm went up by six. The Wrangler offense could not recover and on their next drive, they turned the ball over on downs. Tampa Bay scored again and kept the Wranglers out of the end zone one more time to make the final score 54-42.
Austin travels to Arizona next week to face the Rattlers on April 22 at 8 p.m. (CT). This will be the first of two consecutive road games for the Wranglers as the look to rebound from a two game skid.
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