"Good" Penalty Helps Rush Defeat Mustangs
The last stanza started with a nine yard touchdown pass from Rush starting quarterback Luke Drone to Marquis Hamilton that gave Chicago a 42 – 41 lead.
It was then time for the defensive to take its turn as they were able to stop the Mustangs on downs when defensive back Semaj Moody batted away a fade pass in the endzone from Milwaukee wide receiver Jared Jenkins.
Things would then get interesting. With a little over ten minutes to play in the game, Chicago took possession holding on to a one point lead. On a first down play from its own fifteen yard line, Drone dropped back and threw a pass to his left side. The ball was tipped on the side board by Mustangs defensive back Lance Caldwell. The ball hung in the air and landed on top of the side board right in front of the Chicago bench. Rush defensive lineman Jeffrey Fitzgerald was standing right there and batted the ball away from Caldwell and into the Rush bench preventing what would have been an interception for the Mustangs.
“Yeah, I did it,” Fitzgerald said enthusiastically when asked about the play. “What’s the worst thing that could have happened?”
It turned out to be an unsportsmanlike interference penalty on the Rush which backed them up seven yards. More importantly, they maintained possession of the ball and were able to continue their drive.
“They get one in the box and they reach out and knock it away from our guy,” said Mustangs head coach Bob Landsee. “The guy should have been ejected from the game. If a guy reaches out and grabs somebody coming by, he is ejected from the game. What’s the difference if you reach out and grab the ball out of a guy’s hands that is an interception? “
The Milwaukee bench was livid. At the time, they were down only one point and with the interception would have regained possession of the ball with the chance to regain the lead. Landsee attempted to challenge the call, but the play was deemed to not be reviewable.
“I don’t understand why it’s not reviewable,” he said emphatically. “I threw the (red) flag, which forced (the officials) to point at (the scoreboard) and look at the play to see that I was not (joking). The side judge told me ‘Yes I saw that’. Then you have to call it! To me, that was not called properly because we had an interception. They gave them an interference call, but it is not what it should have been.”
Three plays later, Drone hit a streaking Jared Perry for a 36 yard touchdown pass. A two-point conversion on a fake extra point attempt saw Drone rush in for the score and give Chicago a two possession lead at 50 -41.
The teams would trade scores for the remainder of the contest. The Mustangs scored on the last play of the game, but it would not be enough to overcome the deficit.
“That play was critical to this game,” Landsee said. “But we also had many other opportunities that we did not take advantage of in order to win this game.”
Drone had a solid outing as a starter in place of Russ Michna. He threw for 327 yards and seven touchdowns. He did throw two interceptions.
“I thought Luke did a great job tonight. He played a great second half, controlled the offense like we asked him to and we got the victory because of him and the guys in this locker room,” stated Rush head coach Bob McMillen.
Quarterback Russ Michna was placed on the injured reserve list on Friday, ending his season. He injured his shoulder in the loss two weeks ago to the San Antonio Talons. He had set multiple new Chicago Rush passing records prior to the injury.
In the first half alone, Reggie Gray put up full game numbers. He had eight catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns in the half. He started the second half by returning the kickoff 54 yards for a score. Gray feels slighted not being considered for the league’s Ironman award. He said, “it’s kind of disrespectful and I wanted to come out and show the league wrong.”
Rookie of the Year candidate Jared Perry continued to show why he is up for the award. The wide receiver hauled in nine passes for 109 yards and one touchdown.
Jeff has been writing for ArenaFan.com since 2004. Originally from New York, Jeff has been living in the Chicago area for the past ten years and is an avid football fanatic. He holds a BA in communications from Hofstra University in New York and a sports management certificate from Loyola University in Chicago.