Comeback Win Follows Fan Jersey Retirement
A sellout crowd of 10,594 were treated to a real nail biter that included the biggest comeback in team history. The Rampage trailed the Dragons by 25 points in the second quarter when Ricky Ross returned a kickoff 57 yards for a touchdown. He also returned a second kickoff for a touchdown later in the second quarter -- this time for 56 yards. It was the first time that a Rampage player had ever returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game.
With the score tied at 63-63 and only five seconds remaining on the clock, the Dragons lined up for a 50-yard field goal to win the game. The kick was partially blocked and recovered by the Rampage with no time left on the clock. However, a facemask penalty was called against the Dragons on the play, which gave Grand Rapids one un-timed play before going into overtime. With the ball at their own 18-yard line and no time on the clock, Brian Gowins kicked a 47-yard field goal to win the game 66-63. Earlier in the game, Gowins had missed four extra points. Dragons’ kicker Kenny Stucker didn’t fair much better, missing three himself.
During the Rampage’s comeback they were able to shut out the Dragons’ high scoring offense in the third quarter while scoring 13 points of their own to make the score 49-43 heading into the fourth. Grand Rapids never led in the game until the final field goal.
There was a scary moment for the Rampage at the end of the first quarter. FB/LB Chris Ryan was taken off the field on a stretcher after dislocating his right ankle. The trainers were able to put the ankle back in place on the field, but Ryan was done for the game.
The Rampage held a ceremony prior to the game to honor their fans. The team unveiled a banner and retired the first jersey number in team history, the number nine. It was the team’s way of showing their appreciation of the fans who have supported them since they came into the league in 1998. Everyone who attended the game received a Rampage T-Shirt with the number nine on the back.
Also in attendance at the game were some local college football players from Grand Valley State University. They, too, were being honored for winning the NCAA Division II National Championship back on December 14. The Lakers players also signed autographs down on the field after the game along with the Rampage players.
Next up for the 3-0 Rampage is the Tampa Bay Storm at the Van Andel Arena next Sunday at 3:00 pm.
Randy Snow covered the Grand Rapids Rampage of the Arena Football League for ArenaFan from 2003-2008. He also covered the Fort Wayne Fusion of arenafootball2 in 2007. From 2004-2008 and in 2010, he was a member of the Arena Football League Writer’s Association and, since 2011, has been a member of the Professional Football Researchers Association. Randy lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan but will travel just about anywhere for a football game or a great football story. He runs the web site www.theworldoffootball.com and hosts a podcast with his son, Adam, called “This Week in The World of Football.”