Rush’s miscues in 54-41 loss to Mustangs worry coach McMillen
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media July 23, 2011 11:30PM
Updated: July 24, 2011 2:24AM
With the second seed in the National Conference locked up and a first-round playoff game against Dallas at Allstate Arena already set for Friday, Saturday night’s home game against the Milwaukee Mustangs —the regular-season finale — was little more than a glorified scrimmage.
And the Rush played like it knew what the game meant.
In a game in which it committed six turnovers, the Rush lost to the visiting Mustangs 54-41. Three of the turnovers came in the first half; two were fumbles recovered in the end zone for touchdowns.
The loss means nothing in terms of the playoffs, but coach Bob McMillen was concerned about the miscues that plagued the Rush.
“Our defense kept us in the game,” McMillen said. “When you give up two offensive touchdowns by fumbles . . . what are you supposed to do?
“We beat ourselves. We’ve got to get better next week, otherwise it’s going to be a short playoffs and a lot of guys going home with sad faces.”
Quarterback J.J. Raterink was pulled for backup Dominic Randolph with 6:49 left in the second quarter. Raterink completed only 4 of 11 passes for 50 yards and one touchdown and was sacked four times in the first half.
He came back with 9:28 left in the fourth quarter because Randolph was injured. He threw a touchdown pass to Reggie Gray but was pulled for Randolph on the Rush’s next possession.
Randolph likely saw his last action of the season, barring injury to Raterink. But a rookie year spent mostly on the bench helped Randolph adjust to the speed of the indoor game.
“It was kind of nice to get in there and get a little experience,” Randolph said. “You can’t hold on to the ball nearly as long as you think. I’ve learned a lot just to speed up my play, but it’s been a fun ride.”
The Rush planned to use Gray only in the first half, but McMillen played Gray in the second half in a milestone night. Gray set the franchise reception record with 126, breaking Bobby Sippio’s record of 125, and tied Sippio’s touchdown record of 54.
“I was told that I couldn’t even play this game,” Gray said. “I was told that all I could be was a role player in this league, and to come out and break the Rush record, it’s a great honor.”