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ARENABOWL

Former Trojan O'Hara Delivers for Storm, 43-29

June 23, 2003|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Storm knew Pat O'Hara wouldn't wilt under pressure in the ArenaBowl.

"It's not my first barbecue," the backup quarterback and former USC player said Sunday night after coming off the bench to throw for two touchdowns and run for a third as the Storm beat the Arizona Rattlers, 43-29, for its record fifth Arena Football League championship.

"I've been in the league nine years, five ArenaBowls, so that's what I'm supposed to do.... This is why they brought me here. I just feel fortunate to have helped."

O'Hara, who led Orlando to one Arena League title and was a reserve on another championship team with the Predators, completed seven of 13 passes for 103 yards after starter John Kaleo left because of a bruised back in the third quarter.

He threw touchdown passes of nine and 43 yards to Lawrence Samuels, then ran three yards for a score that put Tampa Bay up, 43-22, and eliminated any realistic chance of an Arizona comeback. Samuels also caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Kaleo.

"We didn't panic when John went down. This isn't semipro. Guys are paid to play these positions," Tampa Bay Coach Tim Marcum said.

"O'Hara didn't surprise me at all. He beat us before in the ArenaBowl," Samuels said, recalling the Storm's loss to Orlando in the 1998 title game. "He's an experienced quarterback, and when John went out, we had all the confidence in the world that Pat was going to come in and make the plays."

Marcum hoisted the championship trophy for a record seventh time. It's his third title with Tampa Bay, which also won under him in 1995 and 1996. The Storm also won championships in 1991 and 1993.

Tampa, meanwhile, became the first city to have the Super Bowl and Arena League champions in the same year. The Buccaneers beat Oakland in January to capture the NFL title.

"It feels great because it's the latest one. It's the one that counts right now," said Marcum, who won one title in Denver (1987) and three in Detroit (1988, 1989, 1992) before moving to Tampa Bay nine seasons ago.

Sherdrick Bonner completed 15 of 31 passes for 164 yards for the Rattlers, but lost three fumbles and was intercepted once.

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Arena Champions

*--* Year Winner Score Loser 1987 Denver 45-16 Pittsburgh 1988 Detroit 24-13 Chicago 1989 Detroit 39-26 Pittsburgh 1990 Detroit 51-27 Dallas 1991 Tampa Bay 48-42 Detroit 1992 Detroit 56-38 Orlando 1993 Tampa Bay 51-31 Detroit 1994 Arizona 36-31 Orlando 1995 Tampa Bay 48-35 Orlando 1996 Tampa Bay 42-38 Iowa 1997 Arizona 55-33 Iowa 1998 Orlando 62-31 Tampa Bay 1999 Albany 59-48 Orlando 2000 Orlando 41-38 Nashville 2001 Grand Rapids 64-42 Nashville 2002 San Jose 52-14 Arizona 2003 Tampa Bay 43-29 Arizona

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