06/30/2012 9:38 PM
CHICAGO – The ball never bounced the Chicago Rush’s (9-6) way when they needed it to as they fell 75-61 to the San Jose SaberCats (10-6) Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
“I thought our guys clawed and battled for sixty minutes, we just couldn’t come through with one more big play to turn the game in our favor,” stated Rush head coach Bob McMillen.
Lacking in time of possession, committing too many penalties and coughing up a fumble all in the first fifteen minutes drove the Rush to an early hole against the SaberCats. The lone first quarter bright spot came when Russ Michna evaded the pressure, stepped up in the pocket and hit a streaking Jared Perry for a 30-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven.
Broken coverage cost the Rush on the next San Jose possession as nine-year veteran James Roe slinked past the Rush secondary to catch an 18-yard touchdown pass. More good fortunes landed in the lap of San Jose when Fred Williams stripped the ball from the hands of Reggie Gray on the ensuing kickoff. The SaberCats only needed one play to extend the lead out to 14 as Williams took the momentum from the fumble recovery by catching a 9-yard pass from Mark Grieb to go up 21-7.
Trying to reel the game back in, the Rush used a six play drive to get back within one score when Jared Perry tipped the ball off hishand, but still secured it against the side board with his chest for a 6-yard touchdown catch.
Even as the game drew closer, the SaberCats offense never backed down and employed the services of many throughout the night. Samora Goodson added the other dimension when he froze Rush defensive back JorrickCalvin with a double move that Grieb took advantage of. Lofting the pass 21yards in the air, Goodson coasted into the end zone to begin a twenty-sevenpoint second quarter for San Jose.
The Rush kept pace with a 25-yard out and up scoring toss to Reggie Gray and then a two yard rush by Jared Perry a possession later. Thescore put the Rush back within striking distance, but left forty-three seconds on the second quarter clock for another San Jose possession.
The SaberCats squeezed in seven plays in those forty-three seconds to steal one last touchdown before halftime. After a questionable pass interference penalty on Jorrick Calvin that breathed 6,851 Allstate fans down on the officials, the SaberCats faced a do or die play at the Chicago 1-yard line with three seconds to go. Having his first read covered, Grieb flushedaway from the oncoming Rush defense to toss the ball into a sea of players.Tipped back towards the goal line, center Jasper Harvey threw his hands underneath the pigskin before it hit the ground to notch seven more points for San Jose as they went into the locker room with a 48-27 lead.
“We’re unable to challenge offensive lineman being down the field. We thought a couple of their guys made it into the end zone a little too early, but in the end the call stood and we had to move on,” said head coach Bob McMillen.
Reggie Gray tried to kick start the Rush comeback right away in the second half by beating Andre Jones for a 26-yard touchdown reception. The Rush defense was on the heels of giving their offense an opportunity to get within a score, but the ball escaped defensive back Jorrick Calvin’s hands when he crashed into the end zone wall with Fred Williams.
Tides did eventually turn to the favor of the Rush when the clock struck 4:26 in the third quarter. The defense held up at the goal line on four straight plays at the 2-yard line to force a San Jose turnover on downs. With the fans’ voices rising up from the defensive stand to help aid the offense, it in turn sped up the wheels of a streaking Jared Perry as he caught 35-yard pass in stride for a touchdown.
The Fred Williams show couldn’t be stopped though. Beating Calvin in a foot race, Williams brought in a late third quarter pass for a 32-yard touchdown and then added a fifth touchdown when he knifed through the Rush special teams for a 57-yard kickoff return with 12:49 left in the game.
Erasing the chances for a last minute comeback happened when the ball was punched out of Russ Michna’s hands with the Rush driving, turning the ball back over to San Jose to clinch the win.
Offensive records continued to fall in the Rush history books with Russ Michna tossing his 83rd touchdown of the season, a single-season Rush record.
Reggie Gray and Jared Perry accounted for 322 of Michna’s 375 yards passing. They also combined to catch every one of his seven touchdowns.
On top of his forced fumble on special teams, game MVP Fred Williams of the SaberCats totaled 269 yards by returning kicks, catching and rushing on way to five touchdowns.
The Rush will look ahead to July 8th as they take on National Central Division opponent San Antonio (12-3) in what will be a pivotal game for Chicago’s playoff lives.
National Guard MVP – SJ Fred Williams
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – CHI WR Reggie Gray
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – SJ Gabe Nyenhuis
Cutters Catch of the Week – CHI Jared Perry
AFL Playmaker of the Game – SJ Fred Williams
Spalding Highlight of the Game – SJ Fred Williams 57-yard kickoff return for TD
JLS Ironman of the Game – SJ Fred Williams