Rampage Drop Home Opener to Storm
Grand Rapids looked as if they would have the early momentum in the game as WR/DB Timon Marshall took the opening kickoff all the way to the Tampa Bay three-yard line. But after three straight running plays, the Rampage were unable to get the ball into the end zone and had to settle for an 18-yard Peter Martinez field goal and a 3-0 lead. Grand Rapids’ second possession also stalled, but Martinez missed on a 48-yard field goal attempt. The Rampage trailed the Storm 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.
However, momentum shifted back in Grand Rapids’ favor as they outscored Tampa Bay 19-7 in the second period to take a 22-21 lead at halftime. In the final minute of the first half, Martinez kicked a 24-yard field goal to make the score 21-16 in favor of the Storm. But on the ensuing kickoff, the ball bounced off the iron and was recovered at the 5-yard line by Rampage WR/DB Josh Bush, who then fought his way into the end zone for a touchdown and the lead.
"Me and Pete (Martinez) always talk before the kickoff and he told me he was going to give me a good bounce and that’s what happened," said Bush. "God blessed me with being in the right place at the right time."
Bush also opened up the scoring in the third quarter, catching a 23-yard pass from quarterback Jose Davis, increasing the Rampage lead to 29-21.
The two teams traded touchdowns throughout the third quarter as Grand Rapids clung to a 36-35 lead going into the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, Davis was sacked in the end zone for a safety and the Storm took the lead once again 37-36. Tampa Bay added two more scores for a 51-36 lead going into the final minute of play. Grand Rapids closed the gap with a 10-yard touchdown catch by Anthony Hines with 50 seconds left to go, but the ensuing onside kick by Grand Rapids went out of bounds and the Storm ran out the clock to preserve the 51-43 win. A crowd of 7,714 was on hand.
After the game, Rampage head coach Sparky McEwen talked about the way the momentum shifted at the end of the game. "They had the ball for quite a bit of time in the fourth quarter," said McEwen. "We took a safety, that was the big play, and then they got the ball back so they actually had an extra possession in the fourth quarter. That was the tough thing for us."
This was a game that the Rampage should have won. Both teams had momentum going their way at different times during the game and a great individual performance by Josh Bush was just not enough to carry the Rampage to a victory. Penalties also played a factor in the outcome. Grand Rapids committed 10 penalties for 57 yards. The most costly one was a holding penalty in the third quarter that negated a touchdown catch by Timon Marshall.
The team has two more home games before going on the road for three straight weeks. The Los Angeles Avengers visit the Van Andel Arena next Sunday. Kickoff is at 2 PM.
Ironman of the Game
Grand Rapids WR/DB Josh Bush was named Ironman of the Game. He had three receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown, two kickoff returns for 38 yards, a kickoff recovery for a touchdown and had 11 tackles. Not too bad for the smallest person on the team.
The Rampage unveiled a banner commemorating this as the 20th season of the Arena Football League. It will hang in the Van Andel Arena throughout the season.
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.”