April 25, 2014, TAMPA BAY (ISN) – “NET10 Wireless Arena Football Saturday” returns to CBS Sports Network this Saturday, April 26, as the Tampa Bay Storm (3-3) host the Spokane Shock (3-2) at 7:30 p.m. EST on CBS Sports Network.
This is the sixth meeting between the two teams, with the Shock holding a 3-2 advantage in the series. Spokane defeated Tampa Bay, 63-49, in their last meeting in 2013.
The Storm enter the matchup on a two-game losing streak. Second-year quarterback Randy Hippeard will guide the Tampa offense. He has completed 61.2 percent of his passes and totaled 1,736 yards and 40 touchdowns through the air this season. He set new season-highs with 31 completions on 43 attempts for 380 yards and nine touchdowns last week. His top target was veteran wideout T.T. Toliver, who returned to the Storm after spending the last several seasons with the Orlando Predators. Toliver tallied 12 receptions for 136 yards and five touchdowns in the game and stands just 21 receiving yards shy of 12,000 for his career.
Spokane comes into the game on the heels of a heartbreaking 52-50 loss to the Cleveland Gladiators (5-0) last week. After former Storm receiver Hank Edwards hauled in what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown with seconds to play, the Gladiators executed a highlight reel Hail Mary off the net as time expired to stun Spokane at home.
To get back in the win column and keep pace in the National Conference, the Shock will rely on the right arm of reigning League MVP Erik Meyer. The Eastern Washington alum has completed 111-of-171 pass attempts this season for 1,211 yards and 24 touchdowns and is just 10 passing touchdowns shy of breaking the franchise career record of 178. His top targets include Brandon Thompkins, Adron Tennell, and Mike Washington. Though Washington has not played the past two weeks, he still leads the Shock in receiving yards (336) and touchdowns (8).
The Shock defense is led by a very disruptive pass rush, which leads the AFL with 15 sacks this season. James Ruffin leads the charge with 5.5 sacks to go along with a pass breakup and forced fumble on the year. In the secondary, the talented combo of Terrance Sanders and Bryant Nnabuife have combined for 51 tackles and seven pass breakups through five games. Sanders has hauled in four interceptions this year, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Jack linebacker Terence Moore has tacked on three interceptions and 24 tackles of his own.
Tampa Bay will rely on the sure hands of Chris Smith in the defensive backfield. The second-year pro has corralled six interceptions on the year and is quickly emerging as one of the League’s top young players. The Storm will also look for a spark from all-purpose man Michael Lindsey, who is just 34 kickoff return yards shy of breaking Arena Football Hall of Famer and Storm legend George LaFrance’s franchise record for career kickoff return yards (5,116). Lindsey leads the League with 709 kickoff return yards this season.