The VooDoo’s Ryan Perrilloux was looking forward to the challenge in his matchup against Tampa Bay Storm quarterback Randy Hippeard, the Arena Football League’s reigning Player of the Week.
But Hippeard prevailed Friday night, leading Tampa Bay to a 62-48 victory at the Smoothie King Center.
Perrilloux, replacing injured quarterback Kurt Rocco for just his second start of he season, passed for 299 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 54 yards and three scores. But Hippeard threw for five touchdowns among his 212 yards. He also received a lot of help from defensive back James Harrell, who scored twice.
“I thought he had a tough first half,” coach Pat O’Hara said of Perrilloux, who passed for 103 yards in the first two quarters. “There were some things he wasn’t seeing in the first half that he sees in practice. But he fought through it. He’s got to get comfortable. He’s got to get the ball out quicker so he won’t take such a beating.”
After the game, Perrilloux’s right hip and ribs were being X-rayed. He was hit on the hip while throwing a long touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, and the ribs were injured during a touchdown run in the quarter. He was not made available to reporters.
The victory was the second in a row for Tampa Bay (5-6) after five consecutive losses. New Orleans (2-8) lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Perrilloux brought New Orleans within 48-34 with 5:54 left. He scrambled 16 yards for a touchdown, then threw a two-point pass to LJ Castille.
New Orleans recovered the onside kick, but a review determined the ball had been touched by a VooDoo player before it traveled 10 yards, giving the Storm first down at the 9 and setting up the clinching touchdown by Joe Hills.
Perrilloux had a few more big plays left in him, though. He completed a 42-yard pass to Quorey Payne for a touchdown with 2:10 left, bringing the VooDoo withn 55-41. But Hippeard completed a touchdown pass to Joe Hills with 55 seconds.
Perrilloux passed 12 yards to Payne with 14 seconds left for the final score.
“We lost by two possessions,” O’Hara said. “There were a lot of plays you look at. Two specific plays were when the ball bounced off the bar on the opening kickoff of the third quarter that resulted in a touchdown and the interception returned for a touchdown. That’s two possessions right there.”
When Tampa Bay’s Harrell recovered the second-half kickoff for a touchdown, it was a bad start after a bad ending to the first half, and it gave the Storm a 35-14 lead.
With 2:06 left in the third, Perrilloux, passing from his 5, completed a 45-yarder to Castille that cut Tampa’s lead to 41-26.
Things turned, oddly, after the VooDoo appeared to have the momentum near the end of the first half. It cut Tampa’s lead to 14-13 on a 1-yard keeper by Perrilloux with 56 seconds left, and a personal foul was called on Harrell on the play.
With the penalty being assessed after the kickoff, O’Hara decided to go for an onside kick. The Storm recovered at the New Orleans 9, with the penalty pushing the ball back to the 19.
One play after a 10-yard pass to TT Tolliver, Hippeard sneaked 1 yard for a touchdown. The point-after gave the Storm a 21-13 lead with 22 seconds left.
Then, on third-and-2 with 11 seconds to go, Perrilloux’s pass was intercepted at the VooDoo 19 by Harrell and returned for a touchdown. Tampa Bay went into halftime with a 28-13 lead and control of the game.
Midway through the first quarter, Perrilloux completed a 37-yard pass to Payne to the Tampa Bay 4. But the Storm put up a goal-line stand, preserving a 14-7 lead. The final play was a handoff to the right side of the line by fullback Kevin Ashak from the 1, but he was stuffed for no gain.
“We were supposed to run the play to the left,” O’Hara said. “That’s another possession.”