If you want to know just how tough it is to win on the road in the Arena Football League, just ask the Milwaukee Iron.
The Iron failed to win an away game for the fourth consecutive time Saturday night, despite being up by three scores in the second quarter.
The Chicago Rush, on the strength of a DeJuan Alfonzo 55-yard interception for a touchdown with 43 seconds left defeat thee Iron, 63-56, in AFL action..
The victory at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL, gives the Rush sole possession of first place in the Midwest Division of the National Conference.
The usual suspects were in place for the 7-4 Iron, the previous residents atop the leaderboard having beaten the now 8-3 Chicago, 71-48, earlier in the season.
You expect Chris Greisen to throw touchdown passes. He did.
You expect Tiger Jones to catch said passes. He did.
You expect Tyre Young to bowl his way into the end zone on the ground. He did.
What is unexpected and has been very rare this season indeed has been Greisen picks. He threw two which cost Milwaukee two scores including the game winner.
This was a Rush team that had been decimated by injuries the last several weeks and had a starting quarterback (Ryan Michna) and wide receiver (Samie Parker) out due to a commitment to the United Football League’s Las Vegas Locomotives.
Rookie QB J. J. Raterink, the 6-2, 210 pounder from Wyoming had Af2 experience in Quad Cities but was getting his first regular taste of action at the AFL level.
Milwaukee got the track meet that is most AFL games off quickly with a 31-yard, Greisen to Tiger hookup. The Robert Forstrom PAT made it 7-0 with 13:15 left in the first quarter.
After Carlton Brown’s fumble recovery stalled a Chicago drive, Milwaukee padded its lead when Young fell forward for a two-yard score.
Raterink found Travis La Tendresse for the first of his two first half touchdown catches, this one covering 14 yards.
The quarter ended with the Iron on top, 14-7.
Damian Harrell, who had a rare game without a TD catch last week, snagged a three-yard Greisen dart for a score.
When Chicago lined up in the ‘wildcat’ formation, the snap was mishandled, scooped by by Perry Kyles and he went 25 yards for a three touch cushion for the Iron, 28-7, with 5:46 left in the half.
La Tendresse and Tiger swapped scores of 26- and 34-yards, respectively, and Sylvelle Newton closed out the scoring with a 24 yard grab from Raterink and Milwaukee was in front, 35-21.
Chicago, which had deferred to get the second half kickoff, saw Robert Boss take it in from three yards out and Greisen found a streaking Nate Forse…34 yards later it was 42-28 Milwaukee with 10:51 left in the third quarter.
A second straight long kick return for the Rush became a one-yard ‘wildcat’ running score and Chicago was within a TD, 42-35 with 8:52.
A Greisen interception turned into La Tendresse’s third touchdown reception and Chicago was back to even, 42-42, with 3:49 remaining.
Young’s second touchdown plunge finished the scoring in the third stanza with Milwaukee clinging to a 49-42 lead.
The teams traded yet again with Boss’ third touchdown and Harrell’s second. That kept it at a one score advantage for the Iron, 56-49 with 10:20 to play.
Newton tied the game at 56 with a three-yard catch with 1:59 remaining after three straight runs were jammed at the line, setting up Alfonzo’s heroics.
The pick came on a pass from Greisen that was nearly sucked in by Harrell, but the ball popped loose as the future hall-of-famer was backing up and Alfonzo did the rest.
The Iron hopes to get back in the win column when the Spokane Shock come to town at the Bradley Center next Saturday night, June 26th. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The Shock sports the best AFL mark, having lost only two games. The first loss was at home to Milwaukee at the start of the season.
The BC has been a very friendly environment for Milwaukee which is a perfect 6-0 thus far.
Tickets are available at the Bradley Center box office, through Ticketmaster, at 1-888-MKE-IRON and also www.mkeiron.com.
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