Rush lose heartbreaker in Cleveland - FOX 35 News Orlando

Rush lose heartbreaker in Cleveland

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The Rush could not keep up with Cleveland Saturday night, dropping a 53-50 decision to the Gladiators. The loss snaps Chicago's perfect mark on the road, and puts them back at .500 eight games into the season.

The game started atypical of the Arena Football League, with shaky offensive showings from both teams. For the fourth time this season, the Rush were unable to secure an opposing kickoff, and the Gladiators cashed in on the miscue, getting out to an early 7-0 lead. Despite the early advantage, Cleveland could not muster any kind of momentum on either side of the ball. Their shaky defense allowed the Rush to score on two separate one-play drives, a 30-yard strike from Carson Coffman to Reggie Gray and a three-yard Kelvin Morris run to put the Rush up 14-7 at the end of one.

The Gladiators were finally able to establish some offensive footing early in the second quarter, as their first quality drive of the night ended with a Brian Zbyniewski-to-Thyron Lewis 16 yard touchdown pass.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Rush, Rodney Wright made his presence known after a two week absence. The veteran receiver returned the opening kickoff of the second quarter to the Chicago 15, then took the second play 20 yards on a pitch down to the Cleveland 16. After a few red-zone runs, the Rush were able to extend their lead to 20-13. Cleveland responded with a scoring drive to seemingly close out the first half, however it was Wright who returned the ensuing kick 54 yards to give the Rush a seven point lead going into the locker room. 

The third quarter began with both backup quarterbacks in the game. Cleveland's Chris Dieker marched the Gladiators down the field without any issues until he hit the red zone, where their drive stalled. Danny Southwick and the Rush took over on the three; however on his first pass attempt he was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, giving Cleveland two points and the ball. In turn, the Gladiators capitalized with a six play, 33 yard scoring drive to regain a two-point lead, which was quickly extended to nine after Dominick Goodman caught his second touchdown of the evening.

Faced with a nine point deficit just five seconds into the fourth, the Rush began their most important drive of the evening. Southwick was able to compose himself and put together an eight-play, 48 yard drive. Reggie Gray was the go-to option, hauling in a nine-yard touchdown pass to bring the Rush within two.

The two teams exchanged four more touchdown drives, with the Rush converting on both two-point conversion attempts to tie the game up at 50 with one minute remaining in regulation. However with the ball and the clock now in their favor, Cleveland conservatively marched down the field, setting up kicker Aaron Pettrey at the Chicago four yard line for a potential game-winning field goal with 3.9 seconds remaining. The snap and hold were textbook, and the Ohio State product knocked it through to send the Rush back to Chicago with a 53-50 loss. The Rush will return to action on May 19th as they take on the Arizona Rattlers at the Allstate Arena.

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