Capitols become road kill for Rage in win at Lincoln
The River City Rage of the NIFL used two first quarter spectacular plays to get the jump on the Lincoln Capitols Friday night and roll over the winless Caps by the score of 53 to 34 at the Pershing Center. It was the second road victory in three tries for the Rage, now 5-1 on the year and in first place in the Atlantic East Division. Lincoln fell to 0-4 in the Pacific West.
Reserve quarterback Anthony Fisher got his first start of the year for The Rage as starter Clay Groefsema was sidelined with a minor neck injury. Groefsema was injured last Friday night in the Lakeland game when he went head first into the boards and suffered a neck sprain. Rage Head Football Coach Mike Wyatt said "Clay probably could have started, but we felt it would be best to give him a week to completely heal up and the team has confidence in Anthony to get the job done. We were in a good position to let Anthony get some time on the field and give Clay a chance to be 100% for the game Sunday at home."
Fisher wasted no time in showing both Coach and teammates it was a confidence well placed. On The Rage' second play from scrimmage, he aired out a pass along the right sideline which speedster Hurtis Chinn caught in the end zone, good for 47 yards and a quick 6-0 lead. After an 8 play Lincoln drive was ended with a 35 yard missed field goal by Caps kicker Sandro Deangelis, the teams traded first quarter drives resulting in no scores. With just over two minutes to play in the first quarter, a second missed Deangelis field goal attempt, this one from 51 yards out, was fielded at The Rage 4 yard line by Brandon Gregory who followed his blockers upfield, broke away near the sidelines at the midfield mark, and raced along the dasherboards all the way into the Lincoln end-zone for a 46 yard touchdown return! A two-point conversion pass from Fisher to Scott Pingel made the score 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
At 10:17 of the second period, Fisher again found Hurtis Chinn in the end-zone, capping a 4 play drive with a 31 yard touchdown strike. Newly acquired Rage kicker John Butler missed his second P-A-T attempt in as many tries and The Rage led by the score of 20-0. Butler joined the team prior to the game on Friday in an attempt to help Coach Wyatt find an answer to the team's recent kicking woes. He is a product of the University of Memphis and kicked for a few years for the Arkansas Twisters of the AFL2 league. The barefoot kicker suffered from what Coach Wyatt called "a bit of rustiness and maybe some first game jitters."
Lincoln's rush to get points on the board was thwarted at 3:51 of the second quarter when Rage Defensive Back Andy Peterson stepped up to intercept Marlin Mckinney's pass at the 15 yard line. Two plays later, Rage QB Anthony Fisher returned the favor as his pass was intercepted by Albert Greenwood, stopping a Rage drive to the end zone at the Lincoln 1 yard line.
After trading non-scoring drives and taking about 4 minutes off the clock, The Rage struck paydirt again, using 3 plays and going 20 yards, with Running Back Sha-Ron Edwards in all 3, hauling in a 9 yard pass from Fisher, rushing for 10 yards and finding the end- zone from a yard out. A Fisher to Chinn two-point conversion pass was batted away and The Rage held a 26-0 lead.
Not for long. The Capitols finally put together a 5 play, 23 yard drive that resulted in their first score of the night, a 1 yard touchdown run by Adrian Perez. The P-A-T attempt was no-good and the half ending with The Rage in front 26-6.
After several second half drives and another Anthony Fisher intercepted pass, The Rage scored with just under 8 minutes to play in the third quarter when Anthony Fisher rifled an 11 yard scoring strike to Sha- Ron Edwards. John Butler's extra-point kick was good, and The Rage pulled out in front by 33-6. After a Lincoln touchdown pass from Marlin Mckinney to Phil Kniep narrowed the the margin to 20 points, the energized Lincoln team struck again. Fisher's pass on The Rage' first play from scrimmage was intercepted by Brent Dierking. The Capitols used 3 plays and ate up 22 yards to score again, this time on a one yard TD run by Adrian Perez. Sandro Deangelis finally found the uprights and it was a new football game at 33-20.
But The Rage offense has found ways over the first five games to quickly answer the bell when needed and this game would be no exception. In just under two minutes, a 3 play drive was completed with another Fisher touchdown pass, this one a perfect strike to Moses Regular from 9 yards away. John Butler's kick was good, and The Rage lead 40-20. In the fourth quarter, Fisher showed his versatility when he shot into the end zone from 4 yards out, behind a great block by center Gabe Dunkmann. The two teams traded scores midway through the period, the Capitols on a one yard TD run by Perez and The Rage answering with a 4 yard end zone rush by Sha- Ron Edwards. That made the score 53-27 and the final tally was realized when Caps quarterback Marlin Mckinney completed a 28 yard TD pass to Mike Dixon.
Impressive on defense were Lenny Williams and Terrell Washington, each recording a sack. Williams, Washington and Jay Carmack each had 4 solo tackles along with Defensive End Bruce Blue, who recorded 4 of his own but was ejected early in the second half on a personal foul penalty. The Rage sack leader was big number 53, Defensive End James Green, who slammed through the Caps offensive line to record 3 sacks on the night! Wyatt Called it his most impressive performance of the season while Andy Peterson recorded another game with 2 interceptions.
With a season record of 5-1, The Rage remain one of the more elite teams in the 22 team NIFL. Only Odessa and Everett are undefeated, both at 6-0, and Miami is also 5-1 on the year.
The team is excited about what Rage Owner Scott Wilson calls a "an added plus for our fans and a great way to cap off Mothers Day this year." It's an added Home Game at Family Arena with a 5pm kick-off against the visiting New Jersey Xtreme. All lower- bowl seats are only $2 for this game, and all the Moms will be admitted free of charge. All the info can be found at Ragefootball.com. The schedule change was brought about due to arena conflicts with the New Jersey franchise. The Xtreme will return to play The Rage again at Family Arena on May 29th.
QUOTES FROM RAGE HEAD FOOTBALL COACH MIKE WYATT
(On Anthony Fisher's first start)
"All in all, I was pleased with his game and knew when we started him he had the ability to step up and get the job done. I was a bit concerned about the interceptions (4 in all), although two of them were tipped balls, which you can't completely lay at the feet of the QB. But the other two were incorrect reads on his part, and we'll work on that. It was a good learning experience for him and a chance to operate under fire. And those TD passes were right on the money."
(On the New Jersey game Sunday)
"Again, like the Lincoln game, it's the fear of the unknown. New Jersey has a new coaching staff, and then this past week went to Cincinnati and lost, so some roster changes will be made. It's hard to predict what'll show up. You've got a winless football team with everything to gain and nothing jto lose. Those teams are dangerous to play."
(On the state of the team so far this year)
"Well, we've only lost once and are at or near the top in most every offensive category league- wide. The defense will continue to improve and already has stepped up in the last two weeks. You can't hardly argue with being 5 and 1."
(On new kicker John Butler and the kicking game as a whole)
"I was a bit disappointed that we were not able to keep them on a long field with our kickoffs. We need to do that on a consistent basis, and those P-A-T's need to be automatic, John came to us with good credentials and maybe suffered from some first game jitters, but the kicking game needs to improve in a hurry."
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