WEST VALLEY CITY -- Give up a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, and then turn the ball over on the first offensive play.
It's the tragic sequence Utah Blaze faithful have come to expect this season and it happened again Saturday night when the Tampa Bay Storm posted a 65-40 victory before a crowd very generously announced at 4,525 in the Maverick Center. Utah lost its sixth straight and fifth by 20 points or more.
The Blaze kept hope alive for a while by cutting deficits of 14-0 and 21-6 to 28-27 with 4:08 remaining in the first half. But the 7-3 Storm, trying to seize the moment and move into a first-place with Jacksonville in the Southern Division, settled for keeping Utah at bay awhile after squandering a chance to put away the game early.
"It's one of those things where you say 'hey, different people but same results,'" said Utah coach Ron James. "We have to shore things up."
En route to his sixth 100-yard game of the year and a season-high touchdown total of five, Hank Edward's third catch of the night gave Tampa Bay a 35-27 halftime lead.
A fumble on Utah's first possession of the third quarter and a blocked PAT return for two points helped the Storm open up an 18-point third quarter lead and a 25-point advantage in the fourth.
It was Blaze quarterback Brett Elliott's return, and the opening play pick was not a promising start. He recovered enough to reconnect with Aaron Boone twice for scores. Elliott finished 19 of 33 for 179 with five touchdowns. Boone had ten catches for 106 yards
Leading 21-6, Tampa Bay had an early chance to make it really ugly when it blocked a Ben Scott field-goal attempt again, but the Blaze recovered a fumble on the return to get the ball back and then scored.
Later in the period, Patrick Brody's interception Utah close to within one point.
Justin Phinisee provided a few highlights on special teams, returning seven kicks for 151 yards.
Former Weber State standout Akamu Ali had three catches for 30 yards and a third quarter TD.