The Kansas City Command gave up five turnovers and allowed two special teams scores and fell to the Tampa Bay Storm 63-46 Monday night in Arena Football League action. The Command had just 236 yards of total offense, though the team did finish with a season-high 46 points. The loss drops Kansas City to 0-6 on the season while Tampa Bay improved to 4-3.
“Very disappointing,” Command coach Danton Barto said after the game, which was televised nationally on NFL Network. “We thought our offense would play a lot better. For whatever reason we just can’t get it done. Everything seems to be hard on offense. Nothing’s easy, nothing flows. We just need to get better and we will.”
The Command trailed throughout the game after relinquishing an early 3-0 lead, but clawed back to within 35-32 just past the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter on a Syvelle Newton touchdown reception. Tampa Bay had an answer, all but clinching the game when Prechae (pron. Pre-Shay) Rodriguez hauled in his third TD of the night followed immediately by a Chandler Williams net recovery for a Storm score on the ensuing kickoff. The Command never got the lead to single digits again.
“I just had a bad read,” said Command kick returner Rashad Barksdale of the critical play. “The kicker did a good job hitting the net, but that was just a mental mistake. He didn’t do anything to prevent me from catching the ball, it was just a mistake I made.”
“That’s what happens when you’re losing,” Barto said. “When you’re winning, the ball seems to bounce your way. When you’re losing, it seems to go the other way.”
Quarterback Matt Gutierrez threw for 229 yards and five touchdowns but also had two interceptions. Syvelle Newton led the Command receiving attack with 13 catches for 99 yards and three touchdowns. Barksdale, despite the one miscue off the net, had 7.5 tackles and averaged almost 25 yards on six kick returns and was named JLS Ironman of the Game.
“I’ve always loved returning the ball and as the season goes on I’m feeling more comfortable back there,” Barksdale said. “But somehow we’ve got to find a way to get it done as a team. It’s so frustrating right now to be 0-6 and there’s not much else to say.”
Tampa Bay got 225 passing yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions from former Command QB Stephen Wasil. Rodriguez was named Russell Athletics Offensive Player of the Game with a game-high 124 yards and four touchdowns on seven catches. Chandler Williams had a receiving TD, a kick return for a score and the net recovery for a third touchdown to earn National Guard MVP honors.
The Command missed several opportunities to get or build a lead in the game. Up 3-0 early, the KC defense forced Tampa Bay into a three-and-out, but the Command had to settle for a second field goal try that just missed wide left.
Tampa Bay then scored 14 straight to build a 14-3 lead and the Command were playing catch-up the rest of the night. Kansas City did score the last points of the first half, drawing within four at 21-17 at halftime.
The Storm had the ball to start the third quarter but their drive stalled out near midfield and the KC defense forced a turnover on downs. The Command, though, failed to take advantage of the chance to regain the lead as Gutierrez threw an interception that bounced off the end zone wall before falling into the hands of Rod Mosley.
The teams traded touchdowns, including a Shay Hodge 27-yard reception for his first career TD catch, before Tampa Bay finally scored two unanswered with the Williams net recovery.
“We’re finding ways to lose,” Barto said. “But we’re going to keep battling. Obviously at 0-6 we’ve got problems and we’ve got to fix them now.”
The Command will next play Saturday, May 5 at 7pm against the San Antonio Talons at Sprint Center. The game will air tape delayed on KSMO TV 62 at 10:30pm Saturday. The TV broadcast will air live on Ustream.tv/KansasCityCommand. Sports Radio 810 WHB will also air the game live. The Talons are 4-3 after a thrilling 56-55 over the division-leading Chicago Rush Saturday night.
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: Prechae Rodriguez, Tampa Bay Storm
National Guard MVP: Chandler Williams, Tampa Bay Storm
Ridell Defensive Player of the Game: Steve Octavien, Tampa Bay Storm
AFL Playmaker of the Game: Chandler Williams, Tampa Bay Storm
JLS Ironman of the Game: Rashad Barksdale, Kansas City Command
Cutters Catch of the Game: Rod Mosley, Tampa Bay Storm (3rd quarter interception off the wall)
Spalding Highlight of the Game: Chandler Williams, Tampa Bay Storm (56-yard kick return for a touchdown)