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Chicago Rush Escape Jungle with 63-55 Victory over the Orlando Predators

Sunday June 2, 2013

Coffman fires career-high eight touchdown passes in Chicago win

Carson Coffman made just one mistake on Saturday night.

It could have been a pivotal one, but his defense bailed him out for a 63-55 victory over the Orlando Predators.

By the time he made his one potentially fatal error, the Chicago quarterback had already set a career high with eight touchdown passes. He had been precise all night long. With approximately four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, however, and the Rush holding a 63-55 lead, he threw an interception that Greg Laybourn took to the Chicago 19-yard line.

Orlando stood just 19 yards from tying the score at long last, but the Chicago defense wouldn't let that happen, standing strong on second and two, third and three and fourth and three to regain possession. From there, Coffman was able to revert back to his prior sharpness, flinging a 17-yard pass to backup quarterback Luke Drone. Fullback J.J. Payne was able to pick up a couple of yards, and penalties helped Chicago run out the clock.

Coffman completed 20-of-28 for 281 yards to secure the victory. Three of his eight touchdown passes went to Reggie Gray. Another three went to Jared Jenkins. And Drone even got in the mix with a touchdown to put Chicago up 63-48.

Orlando, granted first possession, led early, but defensive back Josh Pleasant gave Chicago its first lead with his interception return to the house. Excellent clock management from coach Bob McMillen allowed the Rush to take a big lead into halftime, as Gray came up with a 41-yard reception to put Chicago at the Orlando four-yard line with 15 seconds remaining. From there, the Rush were able to milk the clock, finally punching it in with five seconds remaining.

Leading 42-34 at the half, the Rush held the possession advantage by receiving the kickoff to start the third quarter of play. Coffman opened the second-half scoring with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Gray, capping a four-play, 26-yard drive. Jose Martinez’s extra point put the Rush ahead by fifteen with 12:10 remaining in the third quarter.

After Orlando answered with a touchdown of its own, the Rush offense was stopped for the first time all night. Payne took a Coffman pass, but was stripped by linebacker Tim Cheatwood while trying to gain extra yardage. Orlando’s Dominic Jones recovered the ball at the Predators’ 20-yard line, giving Garcia a shot to tie the game trailing by just eight, with 7:44 remaining in the third quarter.

Following the turnover, Orlando quarterback Aaron Garcia (24-42, 287 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT) completed passes on consecutive plays to give the Predators a first and goal from the Chicago 6. Garcia hooked up with receiver Jason Geathers on first down, setting up the key goal line stanza that would alter the momentum for the remainder of the contest. Wonde Rutledge’s rush was stopped for no gain on second down, and Rutledge’s third-down rush, thought to be a touchdown by Orlando, was marked short. Orlando challenged the ruling on the field, but upon further review, Rutledge’s forward progress was determined to have stopped at the Chicago 1, setting up a fourth and goal. Rutledge’s third consecutive rushing attempt was stuffed by Rush linebackers Tyus Jackson and Kelvin Morris to give the ball back to the offense, still holding a 49-41 lead with 3:58 remaining in the third quarter.

On the ensuing drive, a roughing the passer penalty knocked Coffman out of the game for a play. Hobbled, Coffman didn’t miss a beat as he returned to a difficult fourth and 10 situation, hitting Gray for a 36-yard bomb that put the Rush ahead 56-41 with just over 14:00 remaining in the contest.

Game Notes: Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game: Carson Coffman (CHI) … Riddell Defensive Player of the Game: Josh Pleasant (CHI) … J. Lewis Small Player of the Game: Reggie Gray (CHI) … The Rush head home to play the Utah Blaze (4-5) at the BMO Harris Bank Center in Rockford on Saturday, June 8 at 7:00 pm … The win pads the Rush’s Central Division lead over the Iowa Barnstormers (4-7) and San Antonio Talons (4-5).

For more information, feel free to contact General Manager Jon Redmond (jredmond@arenarush.com) or Jonah Rosenblum with Media Relations (914-912-9900, jrosenblum@arenafootball.com).