Rampage now 0-8 on NBC
The two teams traded touchdowns and interceptions in the first quarter. The only difference being a missed PAT by the Rush, which gave Grand Rapids a 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second, the Rampage defense stopped Chicago FB/LB Bob McMillen from getting into the end zone on two consecutive running plays from inside the 1-yard line and took over the ball on downs. By halftime, Grand Rapids was up 24-13, an 11-point lead. It was their first double-digit halftime advantage since April 13, 2003 in a win over the Las Vegas Gladiators. Grand Rapids never trailed in the first half.
The Rampage also had two touchdowns called back in the first half. The first was a run by quarterback Michael Bishop in the first quarter and the other was a touchdown catch be WR/DB Derin Graham in the second. Both were nullified by Rampage penalties.
Chicago took the lead for the first time in the game at 34-31 late in the third quarter, but Rampage WR/DB Josh Bush put Grand Rapids back in front 38-34 at the start of the fourth quarter with his second touchdown catch of the game.
In the final minute of the game, the Grand Rapids defense made an incredible goal line stand, keeping Chicago out of the end zone on four consecutive plays from inside the two-yard line. The Rampage got the ball back with 38 seconds left, trailing by only three points, 48-45.
Bush became the primary target for Bishop on the final drive. Bush appeared to catch the go ahead touchdown when he laid out for a pass in the end zone, but the ball came out of his hands when he hit the ground and was ruled an incompletion. Bush also dropped another pass on the final drive which led to Martinezí missed field goal attempt as time expired.
"(Those were) two catches that I should have made, but I didnít," said Bush. "It cost us the game today. I put that game totally on my shoulders.
"With me itís all about finishing. Thatís something I didnít do tonight. The (offensive) line was blocking, Bishop was making throws, it all came down on me and I didnít make the plays. I put that on me."
Quarterback Bishop had his own take on Bushís performance. "Josh is my guy," Bishop said. "Weíre not putting any blame on Josh because we know what kind of player Josh is. Weíre just hoping he wonít be too hard on himself and come back and be ready to play next week when we go to San Jose."
Bishop also talked about the mood of the team after losing a couple of close games the last few weeks. "Everybody knows weíre in position to win games. For some reason we just canít get over that fourth quarter. We were right there at the end. We didnít get the breaks that we wanted. The ball didnít bounce our way."
Bishop completed 15 of 31 passes for 235 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. He was also the leading rusher in the game with 28 yards on nine carries and one touchdown.
Chicago quarterback Todd Hammel, who was a backup in Grand Rapids during the 2002 season, was 21 of 25 passing for 348 yards, six touchdowns and an interception. He was also named Offensive Player of the Game. Hammel started in place of the injured Chicago starter, Raymond Philyaw.
1 NBC GAME LEFT
The Rampage are scheduled to play on NBC just one more time this season. It will be their rematch with the Rush in Chicago on Sunday, May 15.
I usually conduct my interviews on the field at the Van Andel Arena while players and coaches are signing autographs for fans after the game. As I was getting ready to interview coach McEwen last Sunday, a little boy, about six years old or so I would guess, came up to him and stood there for a moment. Coach McEwen leaned down to the little boy and was preparing to sign an autograph for him when the boy asked, "Coach Sparky, do you know where (Michael) Bishop is?" Coach McEwen never missed a beat as he pointed the youngster in the direction of the teamís starting quarterback. Thatís O.K., coach, I still wanted to talk to you!
LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL TEAM HONORED
The Lowell High School Red Arrows were honored during the game with video highlights from the Division 3 State High School Football Championship game last November. Members of the undefeated team were in attendance at the game.
Grand Rapids travels to San Jose to take on the SaberCats (3-3) on Friday night. The game is scheduled to be televised on Fox Sports Net.
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 Writerís 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 ďThis Week in The World of Football.Ē