May 19, 2013 - Arena Football League (AFL) - Chicago Rush
The second-place Rush dropped their third consecutive game this afternoon as they lost to the Arizona Rattlers 56-49 at the Allstate Arena.
Rattlers quarterback Nick Davila conducted three textbook drives to begin the game for the Rattlers. The winning quarterback of ArenaBowl XXV was as good as advertised in the first quarter, going 6-8 for 122 yards and three touchdowns; two to Kerry Reed and one to Rod Windsor.
Luke Drone started the game under center for the Rush in place of Carson Coffman. Despite the change, the offense proceeded as usual, as Reggie Gray hauled in a thirty yard touchdown to start things up. Despite the fact that Drone was signed mid-week, his time in Chicago last season apparently prepared him well for the game. He converted a 3rd and 19 as well as two fourth downs to keep the offense moving forward in the first half.
The Rush offense finally faltered on their third drive. On a first-and-goal from Arizona's four yard line, Drone attempted to find Jared Jenkins in the back of the end zone, but Arizona's Virgil Gray stepped in front of the pass, picked it off, and brought it out to the seventeen yard line. Davila made quick work of the Rush secondary, conducting a two-play drive to extend Arizona's lead to 28-14.
The two teams traded scoring drives to wind down the first half. Shades of 2012 were present, as both Reggie Gray and Arizona's Jared Perry caught touchdown passes. Perry, the 2012 Rookie of the Year with the Rush, was back at the Allstate Arena for the first time since last year's Week 17 game against the San Antonio Talons. He eventually finished the game with two receptions, both touchdowns.
The teams went into halftime with Arizona in front 35-21.
Chicago responded to the third quarter bell with a speedy touchdown drive to bridge the gap to seven. Just when it looked like the scales were about fully to tip in Chicago's favor, Davila connected on a fourth and ten on his own five to extend Arizona's first drive of the half. Windsor eventually finished the work with his second touchdown reception of the game. Arizona then capitalized on Chicago's second turnover of the day. Faced with a drive starting on their one yard line, Drone's pitch to Rodney Wright could not be controlled, and Arizona recovered. One Odie Armstrong run later, the Rattlers extended their lead to 49-28.
The Rush did not go quietly. Drone was able to put together two quick scoring drives to keep Chicago within fourteen in the fourth. The defense then finally stopped Davila with eight minutes to go in regulation. A Reggie Gray touchdown catch brought the game within seven, and after kicker Jose Martinez placed the kickoff perfectly off the upright, the Rush had the ball on the Arizona 17 yard line with a chance to tie the game. Despite the incredible momentum shift, Chicago could not muster any points after a fumbled pitch on third and goal pushed the offense back to the 25, and the ball was turned back over to Arizona.
Arizona ran out the clock with three quarterback runs, and the Rattlers finished off the Rush 56-49. Nick Davila shined on the afternoon, going 18 of 31 for 301 yards and seven touchdowns.
Drone, who started on just one day of practice, went 14 of 34 for 261 yards, six touchdowns, and one interception for the Rush. Receiver Rodney Wright contributed his second kickoff return for a touchdown in as many weeks, going 57 yards untouched midway through the first quarter. The loss drops the Rush back into second place. They travel down south next weekend and will take on the New Orleans VooDoo on Saturday night.