Rush rebound after slow start, beat Predators
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media March 22, 2012 10:36PM
Updated: April 24, 2012 8:21AM
Typically, a bad offensive start in an Arena Football League game is crippling.
So when the Rush failed to score on its first three possessions Thursday against the Orlando Predators at Allstate Arena, the outcome looked ominous for the home team.
But as it did much of last season, the Rush defense came to the rescue, holding the Predators scoreless on three of their first four possessions. The Rush then put enough offense together for a 51-49 victory.
“Hats off to the defense,” wide receiver Reggie Gray said. “Offense, we came out struggling, and that’s what a team is for. When the offense is not doing well, we have a good defense out there to help us.”
Though the offense picked it up in the second half, the Rush narrowly escaped with the victory.
Trailing by two with 20 seconds left in the game, the Predators appeared to recover an onside kick. But the Preds were flagged for illegally touching the ball, and they lost a video challenge.
“They were going to come out and dribble, we knew it,” Rush coach Bob McMillen said. “Sometimes the ball bounces our way, sometimes it doesn’t, and tonight it did.”
Gray fumbled the opening kickoff, which was recovered in the end zone by Simeon Castille for a Predators touchdown. On the ensuing drive, the Rush got the ball inside the 5-yard line but failed to score on three runs. On the next possession, Russ Michna threw an interception.
Gray atoned for his mishap with 10 receptions for 104 yards and five touchdowns.
On the Predators’ first and fourth possessions, the Rush forced turnovers on downs. On the third, defensive lineman and former Illini standout Derek Walker intercepted a pass by Collin Drafts.
The pick sparked a 21-0 run for the Rush (2-0).