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Tampa Bay Storm Headed To Arena Bowl XXIII

From Tampa Bay Storm top Orlando Predators 63-62 to reach ninth ArenaBowl

What looked to be a blowout turned into a frantic finish as Tampa Bay held on to earn its ninth ArenaBowl berth by defeating Orlando 63-62 in front of 10,104 fans Saturday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.

The American Conference champion Storm, seeking its sixth AFL title, will travel to Spokane, Wash., to face the Shock on Friday in Arena Bowl XXIII.

From the Orlando Sentinel: Mixed extra point dooms Predators

What would have been a forgettable installment of the Orlando-Tampa Bay rivalry turned into another memorable meeting Saturday night, but not memorable enough for the Predators.

Oh, there was a 21-point comeback and a record setting receiving night for T.T. Toliver, but the Storm weathered both for a 63-62 victory before an announced crowd of 10,104 at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Tampa Bay (13-5) advances to its ninth ArenaBowl appearance Friday at the Spokane Shock. Orlando ends its season with a 9-9 mark.

Carlos Martinez' 42-yard field goal attempt at the buzzer fell short as Orlando had one more opportunity for the improbable win after Kenny McIntyre's interception with 7.1 seconds left.

The actual point difference came with 45.7 second after T.T. Toliver's seventh touchdown made it a 63-62 game. Two illegal procedure penalties pushed Martinez' PAT attempt back to the 20, and the kick hit the right cross bar.

Orlando found itself down 21 points twice in the third quarter after Tampa Bay successfully used an onside kick to extend its halftime lead to 14 and scored on the opening possession of the third period.

After giving up eight consecutive scores, the Preds defense and special times finally came through to make for a thrilling fourth quarter.

A Josh Bush onside kick recovery and Dion Byrum's interception gave Orlando a chance to take its first lead -- with one minute remaining in the game.

On fourth and goal, Nick Hill (21 of 35, 265 yards and nine touchdowns) at first overthrew everybody, but the ball bounced off the net and into the hands of Toliver for the score and a 56-55 lead.

Tampa Bay answered when Brett Dietz hit Tyrone Timons on a 7-yarder with 49 seconds to play.

Toliver finished with 11 catches for 165 yards and the seven touchdowns, breaking the single-game record of six held by numerous players.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.