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Rampage Come Up One Yard Short in OT
posted on ArenaFan.com, Monday, April 21, 2003
Another Saturday night and another sellout crowd in Grand Rapids.
It was the fourth sellout in six home games this season for the Rampage, which
is a new team record. The only thing that disappointed the fans was the final
score as the Rampage, 8-4, lost in overtime to the Arizona
6-6, by a score of 82-81. It was the second highest scoring game in Arena league
history. With a combined 163 points scored, only the New York-Carolina game, won
by the Dragons 99-68, on July 7, 2001 had a higher combined score (167).
The Rampage started slowly, falling behind 10-0 early and at the
end of the first quarter the score was 10-7. With one minute to go in the first
half, Grand Rapids trailed 31-20. What followed was the most exciting sixty
seconds of the first half.
FB/LB Chris Avery rushed for an 8-yard touchdown to close the gap
to 31-27. Then, Grand Rapids tried an onside kick, but the ball was recovered by
Arizona. That led to a Rattler touchdown and a missed extra point. Arizona then
tried an onside kick of their own, which they recovered. However, the officials
penalized the Rattlers for illegally touching the ball and the Rampage took
possession on the Arizona seven-yard line. WR/LB Steve Smith caught a touchdown
pass to make the score 37-34. Grand Rapids attempted another onside kick, but
once again it was recovered by Arizona. WR/DB Randy Gatewood then caught a
touchdown pass and the Rattlers were back on top by ten points. In the closing
seconds, Grand Rapids missed a 49-yard field goal and the score at the half was
44-34 in favor of Arizona.
The final minute of the first half saw three onside kicks, a
missed field goal, a missed extra point and two touchdowns by each team. The
combined 27 points scored in that sixty-second time frame was more than the
entire first quarter.
In the third quarter, Grand Rapids took control and outscored
Arizona 20-10. Steve Smith led the way with a 54-yard kickoff return for a
touchdown. It was the fifth one of the season, a new team record, which resulted
in the Rampage taking their first lead of the game, 48-47.
The score was tied at 54 at the start of the fourth quarter. With
44 seconds left in regulation, and the score tied at 68-68, Arizona attempted
the fourth onside kick of the game. The ball landed right into the hands of OL/DL
Rod Manual who ran ten yards for a Rampage touchdown. It was Manual’s first
touchdown of the season. As time expired, Arizona’s Randy Gatewood caught a
four-yard touchdown pass to send the game into overtime tied at 75.
“We fell behind by 10 points early and had to fight, claw, and
scratch to get the game back to even, which we were able to do at the end of the
third and we had the possession to go ahead.” said head coach Michael
“As crazy as this sounds, when they on sided and we recovered it, all I needed
my guy (Manual) to do was go down and lay on the ground because we were tied. We
run two plays, they burn their time outs. We run a third play in the middle, we
take it down to 3 seconds and let Brian (Gowins) kick it and it’s over. It’s
weird, we score and actually open up an opportunity for them to continue to get
back in the game.” Unfortunately, everything is much clearer in hind sight.
Grand Rapids won the coin toss and elected to kick off. “The way
that we try to play overtime, since each team get a possession, is to go ahead
and let them dictate what we need to do to win,” said Trigg.
In overtime, Arizona scored first on a 27-yard pass from
quarterback Sherdrick Bonner to FB/LB Bo Kelly. The score was then 82-75. The
Rampage countered with an 18-yard touchdown pass of their own from quarterback Clint
OS Terrill Shaw making the score 82-81. The Rampage decided to go for two and
win the game. Arizona began to celebrate when Dolezel’s pass was incomplete in
the end zone, but the Rattlers were penalized for an illegal formation. Grand
Rapids second try was a run by Willis Marshall, who was stopped short of the
goal line. Once again, Arizona was flagged with a penalty, this time for
encroachment and Grand Rapids had one more try. Dolezel attempted a quarterback
sneak but was stacked up at the line of scrimmage. He fumbled the ball forward
into the end zone where it was recovered by teammate Steve Smith for the
apparent win. Unfortunately, the officials ruled that Dolezel was down at the
one-yard line and the game was over.
“It was a great game for the fans and all, but as a coach,
losing… it’s not a lot of fun,” Trigg said.
For Grand Rapids, it was their first overtime game since a 60-59
win over Indiana in the first week of the 2001 season. Arizona won it’s second
overtime game in a row, defeating Los Angeles 82-76 last week.
Arizona’s quarterback Sherdrick Bonner, 26-43 for 358 yards and 9
touchdowns, was named MVP of the game while Grand Rapids WR/LB Steve Smith, 8
catches for 97 yards and 2 touchdowns, was named the Ironman of the Game.
A Lion in the house
Before the game, Detroit Lions defensive end Robert Porcher held
a private autograph session at the Van Andel Arena for Rampage season ticket
holders. He also participated in the coin toss at the start of the game.
During the game, the Rampage wore special red and black jerseys.
After the game, those jerseys were auctioned off with the net proceeds going to
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of West Michigan. It is the second year in a row that
the team has auctioned jerseys for the charitable organization.
Log Jam at the Top
Even with the loss, Grand Rapids still has one of the best
records in the league. They are one game behind Tampa Bay and Los Angeles, who
both have 9-3 records, and they are tied with San Jose and Orlando who have
similar 8-4 records.
The Rampage will travel to the Windy City to face Central
Division rival Chicago (5-7) this coming Sunday. The game is scheduled to be
broadcast regionally on NBC.
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