Storm rains on Ravens
"The defense played outstanding," said Storm coach Tighe Stratton. "I think this was a statement game as far as division. They were suppose to be our toughest opponent and we ran through them. But we know come playoffs the only team we lost to, the Sabercats, is right around the corner as long as we can keep playing well."
The Storm got things going early in the first when quarterback J.C. LeBarron hit Mike Waters in the corner of the end zone just over four minutes into the game.
About 10 minutes later the defense made their presence felt when linebacker Gary Hewson sacked Ravens quarterback Jarron Jeffcoat for a 10 yard loss. The next play, it was Will Demers who got to Jeffcoat, sacking him for a five yard loss and forcing the Ravens to punt.
With just under three minutes remaining in the quarter, Waters settled under it and went 60 plus yards for the score to put the storm on top 13-0. With time waning in the first quarter, Jeffcoat fumbled the ball on a QB keeper. The miscue would prove to be a significant error as on the next play LeBarron tossed a 52-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Marcus Anderson with 51.4 seconds remaining to put the Storm on top 20-0. After the score, LeBarron acknowledged that the team was focused on trying to get another score to put the Ravens away.
"I think we were thinking that, but at the same time I know when we were up 20-0 we had a couple of drives where we backed ourselves up," said LeBarron. "Then we got away from the running game a little bit, which we're going to have to get back to, but at the same time our receivers caught balls and we got plays off that we needed to get off and we looked offensively like we wanted to."
In the second quarter the Storm defense again showed their grit. After forcing a three and out, defensive end Vince Thompson stuffed the Ravens for three yards on second and five. The next play, Mark Hamilton sacked Jeffcoat for eight yards to force a punt.
Two plays later though LeBarron turned the ball over when he was picked off at the 50 yard line. It was one of the few mistakes LeBarron made on the evening in which he threw for over 174 yards.
The interception almost proved to be costly as on the next play Jeffcoat completed a pass - which was almost intercepted by the Storm - for 25-yards. A personal foul on the Storm set up a first and goal from the nine-yard line for the Ravens.
Jeffcoat rushed the ball down to the one-yard line, but the Storm made a goal line stand, forcing a turnover on downs to preserve the shutout to end the half. The play was one that coach James Buzzi said had a significant impact on the team.
"I let the guys talk me into going for it on fourth and one," said Buzzi. "I wish I would have taken the three and at least gotten some points up on the board, maybe that might have helped. But that was a coaching mistake."
LeBarron and the Storm put the game out of reach in the third quarter with two more scores - one a 36 yard touchdown pass to put the Storm on top 27-0 and another from 15-yards out to make it 33-0. The Storm would add one more score off a one-yard touchdown run to make it 40-0.
Jeffcoat went 5-17 with 10 net passing yards and two interceptions. He ran the ball six times for 37 of the 47 yards the Ravens had on the ground.
Follow on Twitter @Brandon Canevari.
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