After a sluggish start in the first half, the Rush picked up the pace on both sides of the ball in the second. The Rush walk out of Allstate Arena with a 61-50 victory and here’s how it all went down:
First Quarter: Iowa won the coin toss and on their first possession they started shakey. Barnstormers QB J.J. Raternik was sacked twice, called for intentional grounding, and even almost committed a turnover. But a big 4th down conversion got them in the red zone. They would score 3 plays later when Raternik found Wide Receiver Collin Taylor from 4 yards out. Iowa led 7-0. When the Rush offense took the field they started on their own 3 yard line after a poor kick return by Reggie Gray.
After back to back dropped passes by Jared Perry and Terrance Turner, the Rush got lucky with a pass interference call against Iowa on 3rd down. Then Reggie Gray took it all the way down to the Iowa 1 on the next play. Then Rush on 1st and goal lined up in their diamond formation with Kelvin Morris at Fullback, Luke Drone at Quarterback, and J.J. Payne and Jeffery Fitzgerald as tight ends. Luke Drone would quarterback sneak it in to tie the game at 7 with 5 minutes left in the 1st.
On Iowa’s next possession it appeared that they fumbled on second down and Rush Linebacker Kelvin Morris recovered. But Iowa challenged the call and won their challenge, and on the next play J.J. Raternik found Wide Receiver Marco Thomas from 16 yards out to take a 14-7 lead with 2:19 left. Just before the quarter ended the Rush took the ball down to the Iowa 18 yard line after Russ Micha found Reggie Gray wide open in the open field. Afterwards Micha would hit Jared Perry for a 10 yard gain. The Rush ended the quarter with 2nd and goal from the Iowa 8 yard line.
Second Quarter: On the 2nd play of the quarter, Russ Michna found his favorite target in Reggie Gray from the 8 yard line to tie the game at 14. Over 10 minutes would go by until J.J. Raternik pulled a quarterback sneak from the 1 yard line to take a 21-14 lead with 9:05 left before halftime. Almost 4 minutes later, Rush Receiver Terrance Turner would dodge 5 Barnstormer defenders and take a Russ Michna pass 18 yards to tie the game at 21 with 4:39 left before halftime.
Just before the 1 minute warning, Iowa marches all the way down to the Rush 10 before J.J. Raternik finds Receiver Jesse Schmidt from 10 yards deep to give Iowa a 28-21 lead just before the 1 minute warning. But poor clock management kept the Rush on getting another touchdown before the half. They would settle for a 20 yard field goal from Mike Salerno. Rush were down 28-24 at halftime.
Third Quarter: After getting a 12 yard kick return to start the 2nd half, Reggie Gray on the first offensive play of the half would catch a 38 yard touchdown pass to give the Rush a 31-28 lead with 13:50 on the clock. With that catch Gray broke the Rush Record for all-purpose touchdowns. But Iowa would battle back on their first possession of the half when J.J. Raternik would once again score a rushing touchdown from the 1 yard line. Iowa took at 35-31 lead with 8:52 left in the 3rd.
When the Rush got the ball back, Russ Michna found Jared Perry who took it 47 yards to the Iowa 3. But on the next play they would get called for delay of game which pushed them back to the 7. Perry would come through on the next play with a 6 yard catch from Russ Michna. On the next play Kelvin Morris lined up at wide receiver and took the pitch from Michna 1 yard into the end zone to retake the lead 38-35 with 6 minutes left.
But Iowa would not be denied. On a huge third down deep in their own territory, J.J. Raternik threw a 40 yard bomb to Jesse Schmidt for his second touchdown catch of the game. Iowa now led 42-38 with 3:25 left in the third. But almost immediately Marquis Hamilton took a Russ Michna pass from 45 yards out to score and put the Rush back up 45-42 with 2:06 left in the 3rd. At this point it was becoming a back and forth game.
When Iowa returned their next kickoff they ended up getting tackled for a safety after Iowa Receiver Collin Taylor tried to re-route his return through the end zone but was caught from behind by the Rush, A safety was called and the Rush added to their lead 47-42. They would also get the ball back. And 2 plays after the kickoff, Russ Micha hits Terrance Turner from 42 yards out but Salerno missed the extra point. But the Rush still had an 11 point lead 53-42 with 6 seconds left.
Iowa would end the 4th with a touchback on their following kick return. Rush leads 53-42 after 3.
Fourth Quarter: Iowa drove all the way into the Rush red zone and scored when Iowa Fullback Rodney Filer scored on a 2 yard run. But Iowa missed the extra point that followed so the Rush lead 53-48 with 10:32 left. When the Rush got the ball back, they scored in just 5 plays. They capped off the drive with Luke Drone faking the QB sneak and instead pasing it to Terrance Turner for a 1 yard score. But then the Rush would fake the extra point when Drone would pitch it to Kicker Mike Salerno who ran in the 2 point conversion.
The Rush now had a commanding 61-48 lead with 8:24 left in the game. When Iowa got back on offense they committed 4 straight penalties. But they did manage to get to the Rush 1 yard line only to be stopped on 4th down. The Rush had the ball back with 2 minutes left. But the Rush failed to run out the clock as the Barnstormers would get the ball back with :46 left in the game. Iowa did score with :33 left but it was called back due to offensive pass interference.
Iowa now had the ball 3rd & goal from the 18. Rush Defensive End Pierre Walters got a huge sack on the next play to force 4th and goal. Then on 4th down Iowa was stopped right at the 1 yard line with :16 seconds left. The Rush would fail to run out the clock as Kelvin Morris would take a handoff and get knocked back into the end zone for a Safety. The Rush lead was cut to 61-50 with 7 seconds remaining. But on the insuing kickoff, Rush Kicker Mike Salerno kicked a touchback giving Iowa the ball on their own 5 yard line.
Iowa would get 2 more plays but the Rush would hang on to win 61-50. Stay tuned for my full post-game report!