The 2013 AFL Season Starts On A Sour Note For The Chicago Rush

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Despite all of the excitement, anticipation, and positive energy heading into tonight’s game, the energy was anything but positive as the Rush lose the 2013 season opener to the Iowa Barnstormers. Miscues and poor offense in the first half, followed by some bad plays and turnovers in the second half, left the Rush playing catch up all night.

Some costly errors within the first few minutes of tonight’s contest put the Rush behind early. Here is how it all went down:

The first quarter was a very low scoring affair. Iowa scored first when J.J. Raterink threw a touchdown pass from midfield to wide receiver Collin Taylor. Assisting that play was Rush defensive back Jorrick Calvin who slipped and fell on the turf while in coverage. The good thing is that defensive end Anthony Hoke sacked the holder to break up the extra point, Iowa led 6-0 early on.

On the Rush’s opening possession they marched into the red zone in just five plays. But after three straight incomplete passes by Carson Coffman, the Rush attempted a 12-yard field goal. Joe Martinez missed wide right allowing the Barnstormers to hang onto their 6-0 lead.

A couple of drives later, the Barnstormers would score again. After an unnecessary roughness penalty put them at 3rd and 20 from their own 8-yard line, Raterink again found some luck when Rush defensive back Joe Phinisee lost his footing on the turf allowing Darius Reynolds to score. Iowa missed the extra point again but still lead 12-0.

The Rush’s only score in the first came from a 4-yard touchdown pass from Carson Coffman to Reggie Gray. This cut the deficit to 12-7. As the second quarter began, Iowa again created another scoring drive capped off by a Raterink touchdown pass to receiver Marco Thomas off of a screen pass from three yards out. Iowa increased their lead to 19-7 at that point.

Midway through the second, the Rush would get back into it when Carson Coffman found Rodney Wright from 14 yards away to cut Iowa’s lead to 19-14. Just before the one minute warning J.J. Raterink found Iowa wide receiver Darius Reynolds for the second time in the corner of the end zone from 10 yards away to add to their lead, it was now 26-14.

On the ensuing kickoff, Rodney Wright could not recover the ball for the Rush after it bounced off of the net. Iowa would recover and score an easy touchdown, the Barnstormers led 33-14 by this point. The Rush would try to score one more time, but a sack on Coffman and poor clock management prevented that.

Then with just 10 seconds before halftime, Iowa would score again to add insult to injury. A pass by Raterink bounced off of the net but was recovered by Collin Taylor for his second touchdown of the evening. They would once again miss an extra point but the damage was none the less as they now led 39-14.

The Rush would manage to get some form of damage control before halftime. The Rush had one more play and Carson Coffman threw a 6-yard bullet to Reggie Gray for his second touchdown of the game. Iowa took at 39-21 lead into the locker room at halftime. When the second half began the Rush had the first possession and made good use of it.

Coffman threw his fourth touchdown pass to Reggie Gray from 24 yards out. It was Gray’s third TD catch of the night, and it cut Iowa’s lead to 39-28. But the Barnstormers would come back on their next drive and despite three straight penalties in the red zone, Iowa still managed to score to increase their lead to 46-28.

The Rush would come right back on the next drive as Reggie Gray would haul in his fourth touchdown catch of the night. This cut Iowa’s lead to 11, 46-35. Once the fourth quarter began, Iowa was hanging onto that 11-point lead. But they would add to it with a J.J. Raterink quarterback sneak, they were now up 53-35.

The Rush would make it a back and forth affair after Rodney Wright caught his second touchdown pass to make it a 53-41 game. The Barnstormers would come right back with 5:50 remaining and increase their lead to 19, 60-41. On the ensuing possession, Carson Coffman would throw his first pick in a Rush uniform to kill a four play, 20 plus yard drive.

The Rush would get the ball back but only for Coffman to throw another drive killing pick. After that pick things started to get chippy as both teams began to push and shove, leading to penalties and two ejections, one for each team. The Barnstormers would continue to add insult to injury by adding a field goal at the one minute warning to make it a 63-41 ball game.

The Rush would get one last drive, but they decided to run out the clock to end the game instead of scoring. The Rush lose their 2013 home opener, and their first home opener since since 2008 by the final score of 63-41. Here is tonight’s box score:

Even though they allowed J.J. Raterink and Darius Reynolds to combine for four of Iowa’s six touchdowns, among the other mistakes, there were still some positives. Reggie Gray caught four touchdown passes tonight, he now has 101 touchdown receptions for his career.

Rush linebacker Kelvin Morris went unnoticed for his nine tackles, and new quarterback Carson Coffman managed to throw for 225 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first game in a Rush uniform. After the game, head coach Bob McMillen, receiver Reggie Gray, and defensive back Jorrick CalvinĀ all spoke at the post-game press conference.

I give them a ton of credit for speaking with the media considering how much of a foul mood they were all in. You’ll see what I mean when you look at their body language in the video below:

I also spoke with a visibly upset Reggie Gray:

Next week the Rush will resume the season on Easter Sunday when the Spokane Shock comes into town. The Shock has always given the Rush a hard, they split the season series last year 1-1. Both teams are physical against one another and I expect next week to be no different.

The Shock was one of the teams that kept the Rush out of the playoffs last year. There is no doubt that the Rush will be looking for some #REDemption this time around. For sports anytime, follow me on Twitter @GabeSalgado82 #Q101Sports

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