Rampage Lose Shootout to Gladiators
Both teams were playing their second game in four days. Grand Rapids defeated the Colorado Crush 44-42 in Denver last Sunday while Las Vegas lost to the Austin Wranglers on the road, 57-36.
Rampage QB Matt Sauk, who was filling in for the injured Chad Salisbury, completed 26 of 47 passes for 360 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. It was the two interceptions that were the difference in the game. The first one came on a controversial call in the end zone at the start of the fourth quarter. Rampage WR Timon Marshall appeared to have caught a touchdown pass and was slammed into the wall. However, the officials ruled that the ball was jarred loose when he hit the wall and was intercepted by Las Vegas DB Earthwind Moreland. That led to a 31-yard touchdown pass from QB Shaun King to WR Kevin Prentiss that tied the score at 55-55.
On the ensuing Rampage possession, Moreland intercepted another pass which led to the go-ahead touchdown, again to Prentiss, putting the Gladiators up 62-55.
The Rampage came within three points of Las Vegas on an eight-yard touchdown pass to Marshall with 49 seconds remaining in the game, making the score 72-69. However, the ensuing onside kick by Grand Rapids was recovered by Las Vegas.
After the game, Rampage head coach Sparky McEwen talked about his starting quarterback. “We lose our quarterback (Chad Salisbury) and we still put up 69 points,” said McEwen. “From that standpoint I feel really good. Tuesday was (Matt Sauk’s) first day of practice (as the team’s starting quarterback) after getting home from Colorado on Monday. I thought, for the most part, that Sauk did a solid job. There were a couple of decision in there that were ill advised. Sauk is definitely one of the more poised quarterback’s I’ve ever been around. He’s going to be fine. To come in here and put up the numbers that he did and to put his team in position to win, I’m proud of him.”
After having just one reception for nine yards in the season opener at Colorado last Sunday, former Detroit Lions WR Scotty Anderson had four receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns for the Rampage this week against Las Vegas. “I wanted to come out and give the fans something that they have been expecting from me and Troy (Edwards) and a lot of guys that were here last season” said Anderson. “We just tried to come out and get the win. We didn’t get it, but we’ve got to fight on, let this one stay here and move on forward.”
For the Gladiators, QB Shaun King completed 25 of 33 passes for 373 yards and 10 touchdowns. Nine of those touchdowns were caught by WR Kevin Prentiss, who caught a total of 13 passes for 235 yards. Prentiss was named Offensive Player of the Game. Gladiators DB Earthwind Moreland was named Defensive Player of the Game and Rampage WR/LB Jerome Riley was named Ironman of the Game.
Did you have the feeling that the field at the Van Andel Arena looked sort of familiar Thursday night? Well, you have seen it before. According to Scott Woodruff, the Rampage General Manager of Business Operations, when the team approached the league about purchasing a new field for the 2007 season, the league offered to lease the ArenaBowl field to the team for the season. The field has been used exclusively during the ArenaBowl for the last several years. “It’s actually the same field we won the ArenaBowl on in August 2001,” said Woodruff. The league had been storing the field at a Grand Rapids area facility.
If you notice, there is now an AFL logo in the center of the field, but back in 2001 there was an ArenaBowl XV logo there. That piece of turf now adorns the lobby of the Rampage offices at the Van Andel Arena, along with the team’s ArenaBowl XV trophy.
Former Rampage head coach Michael Trigg returned to Grand Rapids to help the team celebrate the home opener of its tenth season. Trigg coached the Rampage from 1998-2003. He is currently the head coach of the expansion Corpus Christi Sharks in arenafootball2. Trigg was on the field prior to the game for the coin toss.
Furrey in the House
Detroit Lions wide receiver Mike Furrey was also on hand for the game. He signed autographs before the game and also participated in the pre-game coin toss. Furrey led the NFC with 98 receptions for 1,086 yards last season. He played for the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL in 2001 and the AFL New York Dragons in 2002 and 2003.
The Philadelphia Soul will make their first ever appearance in Grand Rapids next Thursday night, March 15. Kickoff is set for 7:00.
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.”